Lectures by Faculty

Climate, Conflict, and Historical Method

Nicola Di Cosmo
Luce Foundation Professor, School of Historical Studies
May 2, 2014
How can historians contribute to investigating the ­relationships between climate change, ecology, and human activity? Scientific research is making available ­volumes of data on the possible correlations between ­environmental change and social transformations over long periods of time. Yet, how strong and how precise a ­correlation one might be able to establish between ­phenomena like droughts, floods, and volcanic eruptions and the emergence of conflict, the migration of peoples, or the collapse of civilizations remain open questions.

Univalent Foundations: New Foundations of Mathematics

Vladimir Voevodsky
Institute for Advanced Study; Faculty, School of Mathematics
March 26, 2014
In Voevodsky’s experience, the work of a mathematician is 5% creative insight and 95% self-verification. Moreover, the more original the insight, the more one has to pay for it later in self-verification work. The Univalent Foundations project, started at the Institute a few years ago, aims to lower the price by giving mathematicians the ability to verify their constructions with the help of computers.

Topologies of nodal sets of random band limited functions

Peter Sarnak
Institute for Advanced Study; Faculty, School of Mathematics
March 3, 2014
We discuss various Gaussian ensembles for real homogeneous polynomials in several variables and the question of the distribution of the topologies of the connected components of the zero sets of a typical such random real hypersurface. For the "real -Fubini -Study ensemble" and at the other end the "monochromatic wave ensemble ", one can show that these have universal laws. Some qualitative features of these laws are also established. Joint work with I. Wigman.

Art History Lecture Series, Orientations in Renaissance Art

Alexander Nagel
New York University
December 9, 2013
In this lecture, Alexander Nagel, Professor of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, illustrates some ways in which art produced during the Renaissance period points ­eastward towards Constantinople, towards the Holy Land, and to places further east, even as far as China. Nagel focuses on the forms this "orientation" took between 1492-1507, years during which new lands were being discovered, to great fanfare, but were still believed to belong to the continent of Asia.

Rethinking Barbarian Invasions through Genomic History

Patrick Geary
School of Historical Studies
November 13, 2013
Historians have debated for centuries the magnitude, nature, and impact of population movements from the borders of the Roman Empire into its heart between the fourth and seventh centuries. In recent years, geneticists have begun to attempt to provide clarity to these questions through the analysis of the biological data contained in the human genome.