School of Mathematics

Infinite staircases and reflexive polygons

Ana Rita Pires
University of Edinburgh
July 3, 2020
A classic result, due to McDuff and Schlenk, asserts that the function that encodes when a four-dimensional symplectic ellipsoid can be embedded into a four-dimensional ball has a remarkable structure: the function has infinitely many corners, determined by the odd-index Fibonacci numbers, that fit together to form an infinite staircase. The work of McDuff and Schlenk has recently led to considerable interest in understanding when the ellipsoid embedding function for other symplectic 4-manifolds is partly described by an infinite staircase.

Distinguishing monotone Lagrangians via holomorphic annuli

Ailsa Keating
University of Cambridge
June 26, 2020
We present techniques for constructing families of compact, monotone (including exact) Lagrangians in certain affine varieties, starting with Brieskorn-Pham hypersurfaces. We will focus on dimensions 2 and 3. In particular, we'll explain how to set up well-defined counts of holomorphic annuli for a range of these families. Time allowing, we will give a number of applications.

Instance-Hiding Schemes for Private Distributed Learning

Sanjeev Arora
Princeton University; Distinguishing Visiting Professor, School of Mathematics
June 25, 2020
An important problem today is how to allow multiple distributed entities to train a shared neural network on their private data while protecting data privacy. Federated learning is a standard framework for distributed deep learning Federated Learning, and one would like to assure full privacy in that framework . The proposed methods, such as homomorphic encryption and differential privacy, come with drawbacks such as large computational overhead or large drop in accuracy.

Generalizable Adversarial Robustness to Unforeseen Attacks

Soheil Feizi
University of Maryland
June 23, 2020
In the last couple of years, a lot of progress has been made to enhance robustness of models against adversarial attacks. However, two major shortcomings still remain: (i) practical defenses are often vulnerable against strong “adaptive” attack algorithms, and (ii) current defenses have poor generalization to “unforeseen” attack threat models (the ones not used in training).

Floer Cohomology and Arc Spaces

Mark McLean
Stony Brook University
June 12, 2020
Let f be a polynomial over the complex numbers with an isolated singular point at the origin and let d be a positive integer. To such a polynomial we can assign a variety called the dth contact locus of f. Morally, this corresponds to the space of d-jets of holomorphic disks in complex affine space whose boundary `wraps' around the singularity d times. We show that Floer cohomology of the dth power of the Milnor monodromy map is isomorphic to compactly supported cohomology of the dth contact locus.

On Langevin Dynamics in Machine Learning

Michael I. Jordan
University of California, Berkeley
June 11, 2020
Langevin diffusions are continuous-time stochastic processes that are based on the gradient of a potential function. As such they have many connections---some known and many still to be explored---to gradient-based machine learning. I'll discuss several recent results in this vein: (1) the use of Langevin-based algorithms in bandit problems; (2) the acceleration of Langevin diffusions; (3) how to use Langevin Monte Carlo without making smoothness assumptions.

New constraints on the Galois configurations of algebraic integers in the complex plane

Vesselin Dimitrov
University of Toronto
June 11, 2020
Fekete (1923) discovered the notion of transfinite diameter while studying the possible configurations of Galois orbits of algebraic integers in the complex plane. Based purely on the fact that the discriminants of monic integer irreducible polynomials P(X)∈ℤ[X] are at least 1 in magnitude (since they are non-zero integers), he found that the incidences (,P) between these polynomials P(X) and compacts ⊂ℂ of transfinite diameter d()

Infinite staircases of symplectic embeddings of ellipsoids into Hirzebruch surfaces

Morgan Weiler
Rice University
June 5, 2020
Gromov nonsqueezing tells us that symplectic embeddings are governed by more complex obstructions than volume. In particular, in 2012, McDuff-Schlenk computed the embedding capacity function of the ball, whose value at a is the size of the smallest four-dimensional ball into which the ellipsoid E(1,a) symplectically embeds. They found that it contains an “infinite staircase” of piecewise-linear sections accumulating from below to the golden ratio to the fourth power. However, infinite staircases seem to be rare for more general targets.

Real Lagrangian Tori in toric symplectic manifolds

Joé Brendel
University of Neuchâtel
June 5, 2020
In this talk we will be addressing the question whether a given Lagrangian torus in a toric monotone symplectic manifold can be realized as the fixed point set of an anti-symplectic involution (in which case it is called "real"). In the case of toric fibres, the answer depends on the geometry of the moment polytope of the ambient manifold. In the case of the Chekanov torus, the answer is always no. This can be proved using displacement energy and versal deformations.

Reeb orbits that force topological entropy

Abror Pirnapasov
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
June 5, 2020
A transverse link in a contact 3-manifold forces topological entropy if every Reeb flow possessing this link as a set of periodic orbits has positive topological entropy. We will explain how cylindrical contact homology on the complement of transverse links can be used to show that certain transverse links force topological entropy. As an application, we show that on every closed contact 3-manifold exists transverse knots that force topological entropy.