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Graduate Student Colloquium

The Graduate Student Colloquium is geared towards introducing graduate students to different areas of mathematics.  Each week a different member of the Graduate Center Mathematics Department faculty will discuss a topic that is accessible to all graduate students.  All graduate students without an advisor are required to attend, but even those with an advisor are welcome!  Faculty members are strongly discouraged from attending.

All meetings of the Graduate Student Colloquium will be held on Mondays from 4:15-5:00 PM in the  Room 5417, unless otherwise stated.

Jacob Russell:
Joe DiCapua:
Samuel Magill:
Ryan Utke:
Professor Alexander Gamburd:

Spring 2018 Schedule

February 26th, 2018

    Melvyn Nathanson  

    Title:  Matrix scaling and a problem in number theory

    Abstract:  Recently, there has been renewed interest in alternate minimization algorithms to generate doubly stochastic matrices, and their generalization to operator scaling.  This talk will introduce this subject, and describe a problem in diophantine approximation that these algorithms suggest.

March 5th, 2018

    Enrique Pujals

    Title: Back and Forth on the Lorenz Attractor: Hitchhiking on Geometrical Construction

    Abstract: Almost five decades ago,  E. Lorenz published an article in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, which raised mathematical questions that played an essential role in the modern  development of the theory of dynamical systems. I will make an effort to describe  this  ride.

March 12th, 2018

    Blair Davey
    Title: Unique continuation of PDEs and Landis' conjecture

    Abstract: In the late 1960s, E.M. Landis made the following conjecture: 

‘’If $u$ and $V$ are bounded functions, and $u$ is a solution to the equation $\Delta u - V u = 0$ in $\mathbb{R}^n$ that decays like $|u(x)| \le c \exp(- C |x|^{1+})$, then $u$ must be identically zero.”

This conjecture is about the unique continuation of elliptic partial differential equations.
I will discuss some of the broad questions in the study of unique continuation, explore a few of the techniques used, then present some recent progress that has been made towards resolving Landis' conjecture.

March 19th, 2018

   John Terilla

    Title:  Matrix product states

    Abstract:  Quantum many body problems involve vector spaces of very large dimension, 2^10^23, for example.  Matrix product states describe small subsets that are easier to work with.  No physical examples will be discussed.  Instead, I’ll give an example from representation theory related to human language.

March 26th, 2018

    Elena Kosygina 

April 9th, 2018


April 16th, 2018

    Shirshendu Chatterjee
April 23rd, 2018

    Alexey Ovchinnikov 

April 30th, 2018

    Dragomir Saric

Fall 2017 Schedule

September 18th, 2017

    Russell Miller

                                                                         Title:  Classification of Algebraic Fields

    Every field has a smallest subfield:  either a copy of the rational numbers, or a copy of the p-element field, depending on whether the characteristic is 0 or a positive prime p.  A field is algebraic if it is an algebraic extension of this subfield, with every element of the field satisfying some polynomial over the subfield.  We will focus here on characteristic 0.

    The first question to be discussed is what counts as a classification.  Normally one would like to be able to give a list of all the        isomorphism types of such fields, in such a way that, for each field, we can find its place on the list, and for each place on the list, we can determine the corresponding field.  Saying "we can find" and "we can determine" suggest questions of effectiveness:  we would like to be able to compute the bijection between fields and places on the list.  Therefore, computability theory will enter into the talk.  Surprisingly, so will topology, along with (less surprisingly) a bit of algebra and field theory, and we will explain how all these areas intersect and yield our classification.

September 25th, 2017 

    Thomas Tradler
Thomas                   Tradler

                                              Title:  Operads, Associahedra, and Infinity-Algebras

   I will introduce operads, which are gadgets that describe the underlying algebraic structure of some algebraic notion, such as, for example, the notion of an "associative algebra." Operads are very well suited to study problems up to homotopy. I will show this for the case of homotopy associative algebras and show its connection to the combinatorics of associahedra. Although these ideas were studied and well-understood in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s, similar techniques can be used to analyze other algebraic notions, that do not precisely fit into this language. I will show this for the notion of an "associative algebra with a co-inner product," which comes up, for example, in the study of string topology.

October 2nd, 2017

    Luis Fernandez

               Title:  Almost complex maps from the 2-dimensional sphere to the 6-dimensional sphere

   I will explain how to do complex analysis without complex numbers, thus introducing the concept of an almost complex structure, and what it means for a map to be almost complex (or pseudoholomorphic). Among the spheres, only the 2-dimensional sphere and the 6-dimensional sphere admit an almost complex structure. In fact, the 2-sphere is just the Riemann sphere. To define an almost complex structure in the 6-dimensional sphere I will introduce the octonions (or Cayley numbers) as a generalization of the quaternions. Once we have almost complex structures in the 2- and the 6- sphere, we can talk about the space of almost complex maps between them. I will discuss why these maps are,  in particular, harmonic, and state some results about the dimension of the space of such maps. NOTE: no technical knowledge will be necessary to understand most of the talk.
October 9th, 2017

    No Seminar

October 16th, 2017 

    Christian Wolf


                                                       Title: Zero-temperature measures in dynamical systems


   We give an introduction to the mathematical theory of zero-temperature measures which play an important role in statistical physics. In particular, we discuss various forms of complexity of a given dynamical systems  including entropy, free energy and topological pressure. The talk will be accessible to first year graduate students.

October 23rd, 2017

    Andrew Douglas

                                                       Title: Lie algebras and representation theory


    I'll give an introduction to Lie algebras and their representations. I'll say a word about applications of Lie algebras, particularly 

in physics. Then, I'll briefly describe some of my recent and current research projects on Lie algebras.

October 30th, 2017 

    Math Department Colloquium: Dennis Sullivan
November 6th, 2017

    Olga Kharlampovich

Title: Model theory and algebraic geometry in groups and group algebras.

Abstract:  We discuss the modern theory of equations in groups,  algebraic geometry and model theory in free and hyperbolic groups.  The development of algebraic geometry comes together with advances in the theory of  fully residually free (limit groups) and fully residually hyperbolic groups, which are coordinate groups of irreducible algebraic varieties.  We describe finitely generated  groups elementarily equivalent to a free non-abelian group, and definable sets in a free group. 

The Diophantine problem in free and hyperbolic groups is decidable. We also discuss the contrasting results on the undecidability of equations in group algebras of  free and limit groups over a field and  results on definability of the geometry of a group in the theory of its group algebra. No any special knowledge is required. This is a combination of the ICM (International Congress of Mathematicians) talk of 2014 with new results about group algebras.

November 13th, 2017 
    Joseph Maher

    Title:  Random walks on groups

    Abstract: We'll give a gentle introduction to some recent work on random
walks on groups.  We'll concentrate on the case of groups which act on 
hyperbolic spaces, which includes hyperbolic groups and mapping class 
groups of surfaces.  We'll discuss what's known (and not known) about 
typical elements of groups arising from random walks, and indicate how you 
can use random methods to show some non-random results.

November 20th, 2017
    Bianca Santoro