Members Seminar

Does Infinite Cardinal Arithmetic Resemble Number Theory?

Menachem Kojman
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Member, School of Mathematics
February 28, 2011

I will survey the development of modern infinite cardinal arithmetic, focusing mainly on S. Shelah's algebraic pcf theory, which was developed in the 1990s to provide upper bounds in infinite cardinal arithmetic and turned out to have applications in other fields.

This modern phase of the theory is marked by absolute theorems and rigid asymptotic structure, in contrast to the era following P. Cohen's discovery of forcing in 1963, during which infinite cardinal arithmetic was almost entirely composed of independence results.

Some Equations and Games in Evolutionary Biology

Christine Taylor
Harvard University; Member, School of Mathematics
February 14, 2011

The basic ingredients of Darwinian evolution, selection and mutation, are very well described by simple mathematical models. In 1973, John Maynard Smith linked game theory with evolutionary processes through the concept of evolutionarily stable strategy. Since then, cooperation has become the third fundamental pillar of evolution. I will discuss, with examples from evolutionary biology and ecology, the roles played by replicator equations (deterministic and stochastic) and cooperative dilemma games in our understanding of evolution.

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."