Members Seminar

Members Seminar: Linear Equations in Primes and Nilpotent Groups

Tamar Ziegler
Technion--Israel Institute of Technology
January 30, 2011
A classical theorem of Dirichlet establishes the existence of infinitely many primes in arithmetic progressions, so long as there are no local obstructions. In 2006 Green and Tao set up a program for proving a vast generalization of this theorem. They conjectured a relation between the existence of linear patterns in primes and dynamics on nilmanifolds. In recent joint work with Green and Tao we completed the final step of this program.

Moment-Angle Complexes, Spaces of Hard-Disks and Their Associated Stable Decompositions

Fred Cohen
University of Rochester; Member, School of Mathematics
January 10, 2011

Topological spaces given by either (1) complements of coordinate planes in Euclidean space or (2) spaces of non-overlapping hard-disks in a fixed disk have several features in common. The main results, in joint work with many people, give decompositions for the so-called "stable structure" of these spaces as well as consequences of these decompositions.

This talk will present definitions as well as basic properties.

(Some) Generic Properties of (Some) Infinite Groups

Igor Rivin
Temple University; Member, School of Mathematics
November 29, 2010

This talk will be a biased survey of recent work on various properties of elements of infinite groups, which can be shown to hold with high probability once the elements are sampled from a large enough subset of the group (examples of groups: linear groups over the integers, free groups, hyperbolic groups, mapping class groups, automorphism groups of free groups . . . )

Modularity of Galois Representations

Chandrashekhar Khare
University of California, Los Angeles
November 22, 2010

In this expository talk, I will outline a plausible story of how the study of congruences between modular forms of Serre and Swinnerton-Dyer, which was inspired by Ramanujan's celebrated congruences for his tau-function, led to the formulation of Serre's modularity conjecture. I will give some hints of the ideas used in its proof given in joint work with J-P. Wintenberger. I will end by pointing out just one of the many interesting obstructions to generalising the strategy of the proof to get modularity results in more general situations.

Configuration Spaces of Hard Discs in a Box

Matthew Kahle
Institute for Advanced Study
November 15, 2010

The "hard discs" model of matter has been studied intensely in statistical mechanics and theoretical chemistry for decades. From computer simulations it appears that there is a solid--liquid phase transition once the relative area of the discs is about 0.71, but little seems known mathematically. Indeed, Gian-Carlo Rota suggested that if we knew the total measure of the underlying configuration space, "we would know, for example, why water boils at 100 degrees on the basis of purely atomic calculations."

Shimura Varieties, Local Models and Geometric Realizations of Langlands Correspondences

Elena Mantovan
California Institute of Technology; Member, School of Mathematics
November 1, 2010

I will introduce Shimura varieties and discuss the role they play in the conjectural relashionship between Galois representations and automorphic forms. I will explain what is meant by a geometric realization of Langlands correspondences, and how the geometry of Shimura varieties and their local models conjecturally explains many aspects of these correspondences. This talk is intended as an introduction for non-number theorists to an approach to Langlands conjectures via arithmetic algebraic geometry.

Values of L-Functions and Modular Forms

Chris Skinner
Princeton University; Member, School of Mathematics
October 25, 2010

This will be an introduction to special value formulas for L-functions and especially the uses of modular forms in establishing some of them -- beginning with the values of the Riemann zeta function at negative integers and hopefully arriving at some more recent work on the Birch-Swinnerton-Dyer formula.

Metaphors in Systolic Geometry

Larry Guth
University of Toronto; Institute for Advanced Study
October 18, 2010

The systolic inequality says that if we take any metric on an n-dimensional torus with volume 1, then we can find a non-contractible curve in the torus with length at most C(n). A remarkable feature of the inequality is how general it is: it holds for all metrics.