"Intermediate Symplectic Capacities"

Alvaro Pelayo
Washington University; Member, School of Mathematics
March 1, 2013

In 1985 Misha Gromov proved his Nonsqueezing Theorem, and hence constructed the first symplectic 1-capacity. In 1989 Helmut Hofer asked whether symplectic d-capacities exist if 1 < d < n. I will discuss the answer to this question and its relevance in symplectic geometry. This is joint work with San Vu Ngoc.

Loops and Self Reference in Language and Life

Tsvi Tlusty
Weizmann Institute of Science; Member, Simons Center for Systems Biology, IAS
March 6, 2013

We will discuss the notion of loops in linguistic structures, mainly in dictionaries. In a simplified view, a dictionary is a graph that links every word (vertex) to a set of alternative words (the definition) which in turn point to further descendants. Iterating through definitions, one may loop back to the original word. We will examine possible links between such definitional loops and the emergence of new concepts during the evolution of languages. Potential relation to living systems will be briefly discussed.

When Truth Gets in the Way: Addressing Multiple Realities in Intrastate Conflicts

Michael van Walt van Praag
Visiting Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study
March 6, 2013

Most violent conflicts today are fought within states, and many are related to identity. They are, therefore, inextricably linked to how people perceive their ­history. How political leaders view and use history and historical narratives, often as the foundation for their claims, has a great impact on negotiations and can hold a peace process hostage.

In this lecture, Michael van Walt van Praag, Visiting Professor in the School of Historical Studies, offers a mediator’s perspective on ways to examine pertinent historical events and historiography in order to facilitate a change in the way negotiators relate to the other party’s history, as well as to their own. In so doing, he also considers the relation of modern international law and the nation-state concept to today’s conflicts.