Let $(X_n)_{n \ge 0}$ be an irreducible, aperiodic, homogeneous Markov chain, with state space a totally ordered finite alphabet of size $m$. Using combinatorial constructions and weak invariance principles, we obtain the limiting shape of the associated RSK Young diagrams as a multidimensional Brownian functional. Since the length of the top row of the Young diagrams is also the length of the longest weakly increasing subsequences of $(X_k)_{1\le k \le n}$, the corresponding limiting law follows. We relate our results to a conjecture of Kuperberg by providing, under a cyclic condition, a spectral characterization of the Markov transition matrix precisely characterizing when the limiting shape is the spectrum of the $m \times m$ traceless GUE. For each $m \ge 4$, this characterization identifies a proper, non-trivial class of cyclic transition matrices producing such a limiting shape. However, for $m=3$, all cyclic Markov chains have such a limiting shape, a fact previously only known for $m=2$. For $m$ arbitrary, we also study reversible Markov chains and obtain a characterization of symmetric Markov chains for which the limiting shape is the spectrum of the traceless GUE. To finish, we explore, in this general setting, connections between various limiting laws and spectra of Gaussian random matrices, focusing in particular on the relationship between the terminal points of the Brownian motions, the diagonal terms of the random matrix, and the scaling of its off-diagonal terms, a scaling we conjecture to be a function of the spectrum of the covariance matrix governing the Brownian motion.

Joint work with Trevis Litherland.