2019-2020 Colloquium, Wednesdays

The 2019-2020 Colloquium will take place every Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 at CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Room G10. This year’s colloquium will be organized by Aghil Alaee, Ryan Thorngren and Sergiy Verstyuk. The schedule below will be updated as speakers are confirmed. Information on previous colloquia can be found here.

Date Speaker Title/Abstract


Bill Helton (UC San Diego)

Title:  A taste of noncommutative convex algebraic geometry


Abstract: The last decade has seen the development of a substantial noncommutative (in a free algebra) real and complex algebraic geometry. The aim of the subject is to develop a systematic theory of equations and inequalities for (noncommutative) polynomials or rational functions of matrix variables. Such issues occur in linear systems engineering problems, in free probability (random matrices), and in quantum information theory. In many ways the noncommutative (NC) theory is much cleaner than classical (real) algebraic geometry. For example,


◦ A NC polynomial, whose value is positive semidefinite whenever you plug matrices into it, is a sum of squares of NC polynomials.

◦ A convex NC semialgebraic set has a linear matrix inequality representation. 

◦ The natural Nullstellensatz are falling into place. 


 The goal of the talk is to give a taste of a few basic results and some idea of how these noncommutative problems occur in engineering. The subject is just beginning and so is accessible without much background. Much of the work is joint with Igor Klep who is also visiting CMSA for the Fall of 2019.  


Pavel Etingof (MIT)


Title: Double affine Hecke algebras

Abstract: Double affine Hecke algebras (DAHAs) were introduced by I. Cherednik in the early 1990s to prove Macdonald’s conjectures. A DAHA is the quotient of the group algebra of the elliptic braid group attached to a root system by Hecke relations. DAHAs and their degenerations are now central objects of representation theory. They also have numerous connections to many other fields — integrable systems, quantum groups, knot theory, algebraic geometry, combinatorics, and others. In my talk, I will discuss the basic properties of double affine Hecke algebras and touch upon some applications.


Spiro Karigiannis (University of Waterloo)

Title: Cohomologies on almost complex manifolds and their applications

Abstract: We define three cohomologies on an almost complex manifold (M, J), defined using the Nijenhuis-Lie derivations induced from the almost complex structure J and its Nijenhuis tensor N, regarded as vector-valued forms on M. One of these can be applied to distinguish non-isomorphic non-integrable almost complex structures on M. Another one, the J-cohomology, is familiar in the integrable case but we extend its definition and applicability to the case of non-integrable almost complex structures. The J-cohomology encodes whether a complex manifold satisfies the “del-delbar-lemma”, and more generally in the non-integrable case the J-cohomology encodes whether (M, J) satisfies a generalization of this lemma. We also mention some other potential cohomologies on almost complex manifolds, related to an interesting question involving the Nijenhuis tensor. This is joint work with Ki Fung Chan and Chi Cheuk Tsang.


Hans Lindblad (Johns Hopkins University)

Title:  Global Existence and Scattering for Einstein’s equations and related equations satisfying the weak null condition


Abstract: Einstein’s equations in harmonic or wave coordinates are a system of nonlinear wave equations for a Lorentzian metric, that in addition  satisfy the preserved wave coordinate condition.


Christodoulou-Klainerman proved global existence for Einstein vacuum equations for small asymptotically flat initial data. Their proof avoids using coordinates since it was believed the metric in harmonic coordinates would blow up for large times.

John had noticed that solutions to some nonlinear wave equations blow up for small data, whereas  lainerman came up with the ‘null condition’, that guaranteed global existence for small data. However Einstein’s equations do not satisfy the null condition.

Hormander introduced a simplified asymptotic system by neglecting angular derivatives which we expect decay faster due to the rotational invariance, and used it to study blowup. I showed that the asymptotic system corresponding to the quasilinear part of Einstein’s equations does not blow up and gave an example of a nonlinear equation of this form that has global solutions even though it does not satisfy the null condition.

Together with Rodnianski we introduced the ‘weak null condition’ requiring that the corresponding asymptotic system have global solutions and we showed that Einstein’s equations in wave coordinates satisfy the weak null condition and we proved global existence for this system. Our method reduced the proof to afraction and has now been used to prove global existence also with matter fields.

Recently I derived precise asymptotics for the metric which involves logarithmic corrections to the radiation field of solutions of linear wave equations. We are further imposing these asymptotics at infinity and solve the equationsbackwards to obtain global solutions with given data at infinity.   


Aram Harrow (MIT)


Title: Monogamy of entanglement and convex geometry

Abstract: The SoS (sum of squares) hierarchy is a flexible algorithm that can be used to optimize polynomials and to test whether a quantum state is entangled or separable. (Remarkably, these two problems are nearly isomorphic.) These questions lie at the boundary of P, NP and the unique games conjecture, but it is in general open how well the SoS algorithm performs. I will discuss how ideas from quantum information (the “monogamy” property of entanglement) can be used to understand this algorithm. Then I will describe an alternate algorithm that relies on apparently different tools from convex geometry that achieves similar performance. This is an example of a series of remarkable parallels between SoS algorithms and simpler algorithms that exhaustively search over carefully chosen sets. Finally, I will describe known limitations on SoS algorithms for these problems.


No talk



Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS)


Title: Spacetime, Quantum Mechanics and Positive Geometry at Infinity


Kevin Costello (Perimeter Institute)


Title: A unified perspective on integrability


Abstract: Two dimensional integrable field theories, and the integrable PDEs which are their classical limits, play an important role in mathematics and physics.   I will describe a geometric construction of integrable field theories which yields (essentially) all known integrable theories as well as many new ones. Billiard dynamical systems will play a surprising role. Based on work (partly in progress) with Gaiotto, Lee, Yamazaki, Witten, and Wu.


Heather  Harrington (University of Oxford)

Title:  Algebra, Geometry and Topology of ERK Enzyme Kinetics

Abstract: In this talk I will analyse ERK time course data by developing mathematical models of enzyme kinetics. I will present how we can use differential algebra and geometry for model identifiability and topological data analysis to study these the wild type dynamics of ERK and ERK mutants. This work is joint with Lewis Marsh, Emilie Dufresne, Helen Byrne and Stanislav Shvartsman.


Xi Yin (Harvard)



Madhu Sudan (Harvard)



Xiao-Gang Wen (MIT)




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