< 2024 >
< 2024 >
  • Conference
    2:00 pm-5:00 pm
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138


    APRIL 5-6, 2024



    Organizers: David Jerison, Paul Seidel, Nike Sun (MIT); Denis Auroux, Mark Kisin, Lauren Williams, Horng-Tzer Yau

    Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Harvard University Mathematics, Harvard University Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Harvard University is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the University community is, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity. More information can be found here.

  • Conference
    2:00 pm-5:00 pm
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138


    APRIL 5-6, 2024



    Organizers: David Jerison, Paul Seidel, Nike Sun (MIT); Denis Auroux, Mark Kisin, Lauren Williams, Horng-Tzer Yau

    Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Harvard University Mathematics, Harvard University Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Harvard University is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the University community is, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity. More information can be found here.

  • CMSA EVENT: Mathematics in Science: Perspectives and Prospects
    All day
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

    Mathematics in Science: Perspectives and Prospects

    A showcase of mathematics in interaction with physics, computer science, biology, and beyond.

    October 27–28, 2023

    Location: Harvard University Science Center Hall D & via Zoom.

    Directions and Recommended Lodging

    Format: This conference will be held in hybrid format, both in person and via Zoom Webinar.

    Youtube Playlist




    • Michael R. Douglas (Harvard CMSA)
    • Dan Freed (Harvard Math & CMSA)
    • Mike Hopkins (Harvard Math)
    • Cumrun Vafa (Harvard Physics)
    • Horng-Tzer Yau (Harvard Math)


    Friday, October 27, 2023

    2:00–3:15 pmGreg Moore (Rutgers)

    Title: Remarks on Physical Mathematics

    Abstract: I will describe some examples of the vigorous modern dialogue between mathematics and theoretical physics (especially high energy and condensed matter physics). I will begin by recalling Stokes’ phenomenon and explain how it is related to some notable developments in quantum field theory from the past 30 years. Time permitting, I might also say something about the dialogue between mathematicians working on the differential topology of four-manifolds and physicists working on supersymmetric quantum field theories. But I haven’t finished writing the talk yet, so I don’t know how it will end any more than you do.

    Slides (PDF)

    3:15–3:45 pmBreak
    3:45–5:00 pmBernd Sturmfels (MPI Leipzig)

    Title: Algebraic Varieties in Quantum Chemistry

    Abstract: We discuss the algebraic geometry behind coupled cluster (CC) theory of quantum many-body systems. The high-dimensional eigenvalue problems that encode the electronic Schroedinger equation are approximated by a hierarchy of polynomial systems at various levels of truncation. The exponential parametrization of the eigenstates gives rise to truncation varieties. These generalize Grassmannians in their Pluecker embedding. We explain how to derive Hamiltonians, we offer a detailed study of truncation varieties and their CC degrees, and we present the state of the art in solving the CC equations. This is joint work with Fabian Faulstich and Svala Sverrisdóttir.

    Slides (PDF)


    Saturday, October 28, 2023

    9:00 amBreakfast
    9:30–10:45 amMike Freedman (Harvard CMSA)

    Title: ML, QML, and Dynamics: What mathematics can help us understand and advance machine learning?

    Abstract: Vannila deep neural nets DNN repeatedly stretch and fold. They are reminiscent of the logistic map and the Smale horseshoe.  What kind of dynamics is responsible for their expressivity and trainability. Is chaos playing a role? Is the Kolmogorov Arnold representation theorem relevant? Large language models are full of linear maps. Might we look for emergent tensor structures in these highly trained maps in analogy with emergent tensor structures at local minima of certain loss functions in high-energy physics.

    Slides (PDF)

    10:45–11:15 amBreak
    11:15 am–12:30 pm
    via Zoom
    Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS)

    Title: All-Loop Scattering as A Counting Problem

    Abstract: I will describe a new understanding of scattering amplitudes based on fundamentally combinatorial ideas in the kinematic space of the scattering data. I first discuss a toy model, the simplest theory of colored scalar particles with cubic interactions, at all loop orders and to all orders in the topological ‘t Hooft expansion. I will present a novel formula for loop-integrated amplitudes, with no trace of the conventional sum over Feynman diagrams, but instead determined by a beautifully simple counting problem attached to any order of the topological expansion. A surprisingly simple shift of kinematic variables converts this apparent toy model into the realistic physics of pions and Yang-Mills theory. These results represent a significant step forward in the decade-long quest to formulate the fundamental physics of the real world in a new language, where the rules of spacetime and quantum mechanics, as reflected in the principles of locality and unitarity, are seen to emerge from deeper mathematical structures.

    12:30–2:00 pmLunch break
    2:00–3:15 pmConstantinos Daskalakis (MIT)

    Title: How to train deep neural nets to think strategically

    Abstract: Many outstanding challenges in Deep Learning lie at its interface with Game Theory: from playing difficult games like Go to robustifying classifiers against adversarial attacks, training deep generative models, and training DNN-based models to interact with each other and with humans. In these applications, the utilities that the agents aim to optimize are non-concave in the parameters of the underlying DNNs; as a result, Nash equilibria fail to exist, and standard equilibrium analysis is inapplicable. So how can one train DNNs to be strategic? What is even the goal of the training? We shed light on these challenges through a combination of learning-theoretic, complexity-theoretic, game-theoretic and topological techniques, presenting obstacles and opportunities for Deep Learning and Game Theory going forward.

    Slides (PDF)

    3:15–3:45 pmBreak
    3:45–5:00 pmAlison Etheridge (Oxford)

    Title: Modelling hybrid zones

    Abstract: Mathematical models play a fundamental role in theoretical population genetics and, in turn, population genetics provides a wealth of mathematical challenges. In this lecture we investigate the interplay between a particular (ubiquitous) form of natural selection, spatial structure, and, if time permits, so-called genetic drift. A simple mathematical caricature will uncover the importance of the shape of the domain inhabited by a species for the effectiveness of natural selection.

    Slides (PDF)


    Limited funding to help defray travel expenses is available for graduate students and recent PhDs. If you are a graduate student or postdoc and would like to apply for support, please register above and send an email to mathsci2023@cmsa.fas.harvard.edu no later than October 9, 2023.

    Please include your name, address, current status, university affiliation, citizenship, and area of study. F1 visa holders are eligible to apply for support. If you are a graduate student, please send a brief letter of recommendation from a faculty member to explain the relevance of the conference to your studies or research. If you are a postdoc, please include a copy of your CV.


  • Seminars

    Seminars Colloquia & Seminar
    1/27/2020 Math Physics Seminar

    12:00 am-1:00 pm
  • Holiday
    All day

    Holiday: Friday after Thanksgiving

    The CMSA will be closed on Friday, November 25, 2022.

  • Mathematical Physics Seminar

    Mathematical Physics Seminar
    4-9-2018 Math Physics Seminar

    12:00 am
  • Mathematical Physics Seminar

    Mathematical Physics Seminar
    4-16-2018 Mathematical Physics Seminar

    12:00 am
  • CMSA EVENT: Quantum Matter Workshop
    All day

    Please note: this workshop has been postponed to a later date. Details will be posted to this page when they are available.

    Throughout the summer, scheduled speakers for the Quantum Matter Workshop will give talks on Zoom for the Quantum Matter/Condensed Matter seminar.

    The CMSA will be hosting our second workshop on Quantum Matter. Both of these workshops are part of our program on Quantum Matter in Mathematics and Physics. The first workshop took place in December 2019, and was extremely successful, attracting participants worldwide. Learn more about the first workshop here.


    Organizers: Du Pei, Ryan Thorngren, Juven Wang, Yifan Wang, and Shing-Tung Yau.


  • Quantum Matter
    12:00 am-1:30 pm
  • CMSA EVENT: Big Data Conference 2021
    All day

    On August 24, 2021, the CMSA hosted our seventh annual Conference on Big Data. The Conference features many speakers from the Harvard community as well as scholars from across the globe, with talks focusing on computer science, statistics, math and physics, and economics.

    The 2021 Big Data Conference took place virtually on Zoom.


    • Shing-Tung Yau, William Caspar Graustein Professor of Mathematics, Harvard University
    • Scott Duke Kominers, MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor, Harvard Business
    • Horng-Tzer Yau, Professor of Mathematics, Harvard University
    • Sergiy Verstyuk, CMSA, Harvard University


    Time (ET; Boston time)SpeakerTitle/Abstract
    9:00AMConference OrganizersIntroduction and Welcome
    9:10AM – 9:55AMAndrew Blumberg, University of Texas at AustinTitle: Robustness and stability for multidimensional persistent homology

    Abstract: A basic principle in topological data analysis is to study the shape of data by looking at multiscale homological invariants. The idea is to filter the data using a scale parameter that reflects feature size. However, for many data sets, it is very natural to consider multiple filtrations, for example coming from feature scale and density. A key question that arises is how such invariants behave with respect to noise and outliers. This talk will describe a framework for understanding those questions and explore open problems in the area.

    10:00AM – 10:45AMKatrina Ligett, The Hebrew University of JerusalemTitle: Privacy as Stability, for Generalization

    Abstract: Many data analysis pipelines are adaptive: the choice of which analysis to run next depends on the outcome of previous analyses. Common examples include variable selection for regression problems and hyper-parameter optimization in large-scale machine learning problems: in both cases, common practice involves repeatedly evaluating a series of models on the same dataset. Unfortunately, this kind of adaptive re-use of data invalidates many traditional methods of avoiding overfitting and false discovery, and has been blamed in part for the recent flood of non-reproducible findings in the empirical sciences. An exciting line of work beginning with Dwork et al. in 2015 establishes the first formal model and first algorithmic results providing a general approach to mitigating the harms of adaptivity, via a connection to the notion of differential privacy. In this talk, we’ll explore the notion of differential privacy and gain some understanding of how and why it provides protection against adaptivity-driven overfitting. Many interesting questions in this space remain open.

    Joint work with: Christopher Jung (UPenn), Seth Neel (Harvard), Aaron Roth (UPenn), Saeed Sharifi-Malvajerdi (UPenn), and Moshe Shenfeld (HUJI). This talk will draw on work that appeared at NeurIPS 2019 and ITCS 2020

    10:50AM – 11:35AMHima Lakkaraju, Harvard UniversityTitle: Towards Reliable and Robust Model Explanations

    Abstract: As machine learning black boxes are increasingly being deployed in domains such as healthcare and criminal justice, there is growing emphasis on building tools and techniques for explaining these black boxes in an interpretable manner. Such explanations are being leveraged by domain experts to diagnose systematic errors and underlying biases of black boxes. In this talk, I will present some of our recent research that sheds light on the vulnerabilities of popular post hoc explanation techniques such as LIME and SHAP, and also introduce novel methods to address some of these vulnerabilities. More specifically, I will first demonstrate that these methods are brittle, unstable, and are vulnerable to a variety of adversarial attacks. Then, I will discuss two solutions to address some of the vulnerabilities of these methods – (i) a framework based on adversarial training that is designed to make post hoc explanations more stable and robust to shifts in the underlying data; (ii) a Bayesian framework that captures the uncertainty associated with post hoc explanations and in turn allows us to generate explanations with user specified levels of confidences. I will conclude the talk by discussing results from real world datasets to both demonstrate the vulnerabilities in post hoc explanation techniques as well as the efficacy of our aforementioned solutions.

    11:40AM – 12:25PMMoran Koren, Harvard CMSATitle: A Gatekeeper’s Conundrum

    Abstract: Many selection processes contain a “gatekeeper”. The gatekeeper’s goal is to examine an applicant’s suitability to a proposed position before both parties endure substantial costs. Intuitively, the introduction of a gatekeeper should reduce selection costs as unlikely applicants are sifted out. However, we show that this is not always the case as the gatekeeper’s introduction inadvertently reduces the applicant’s expected costs and thus interferes with her self-selection. We study the conditions under which the gatekeeper’s presence improves the system’s efficiency and those conditions under which the gatekeeper’s presence induces inefficiency. Additionally, we show that the gatekeeper can sometimes improve selection correctness by behaving strategically (i.e., ignore her private information with some probability).

    12:25PMConference OrganizersClosing Remarks
  • Program
    All day
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    Arithmetic Quantum Field Theory Program

    To receive email updates and program announcements, visit this link to sign up for the CMSA Arithmetic Quantum Field Theory Program mailing list.

    Dates: Feb. 5–Mar. 29, 2024

    Location: Harvard CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138

    Directions to CMSA


    This program will feature a weekly seminar series, workshops, and a conference.

    The object of the program is to develop and disseminate exciting new connections emerging between quantum field theory and algebraic number theory, and in particular between the fundamental invariants of each: partition functions and L-functions.

    On one hand, there has been tremendous progress in the past decade in our understanding of the algebraic structures underlying quantum field theory as expressed in terms of the geometry and topology of low-dimensional manifolds, both on the level of states (via the Atiyah-Segal / Baez-Dolan / Lurie formalism of extended, functorial field theory) and on the level of observables (via the Beilinson–Drinfeld / Costello–Gwilliam formalism of factorization algebras). On the other hand, Weil’s Rosetta Stone and the Mazur–Morishita–Kapranov–Reznikov arithmetic topology (the “knots and primes” dictionary) provide a sturdy bridge between the topology of 2- and 3-manifolds and the arithmetic of number fields. Thus, one can now port over quantum field theoretic ideas to number theory, as first proposed by Minhyong Kim with his arithmetic counterpart of Chern-Simons theory. Most recently, the work of Ben-Zvi–Sakellaridis–Venkatesh applies an understanding of the Langlands program as an arithmetic avatar of electric-magnetic duality in four-dimensional gauge theory to reveal a hidden quantum mechanical nature of the theory of $L$-functions.

    The program will bring together a wide range of mathematicians and physicists working on adjacent areas to explore the emerging notion of arithmetic quantum field theory as a tool to bring quantum physics to bear on questions of interest for the theory of automorphic forms, harmonic analysis and L-functions. Conversely, we will explore potential geometric and physical consequences of arithmetic ideas, for example, the Langlands correspondence theory of L-functions for 3-manifolds.


    The first week of the program will feature several lecture series aimed at a broad local community of mathematicians and physicists, aiming to introduce the main ideas underlying our program and help establish a common reference point.

    The program will host a weekly seminar series on Fridays.

    The speakers will be selected with the aim of covering a wide panorama of the subjects over the course of the program.

    The program will conclude with a week-long Conference on Arithmetic Quantum Field Theory March 25–29, 2024.

    AQFT Youtube Playlist

    Lecture series

    All lectures take place in Room G10, Harvard CMSA, 20 Garden Street Cambridge.

    Week 1: Feb. 5–9, 2024

    Abstract: In this lecture series we will introduce some of the themes underlying the CMSA program on Arithmetic Quantum Field Theory taking place this winter and the upcoming conference March 25-29, 2024.

    Some of the themes we plan to discuss include:

    Structures in QFT (like factorization for observables and functorial QFT for states and their relation to geometric / deformation quantization) that are sufficiently algebraic and formal to allow for arithmetic analogs.

    The setup of arithmetic topology as a bridge between the background of QFT to that of arithmetic (both “global” and “local”), including the “middle realm” of positive characteristic function fields.

    Questions and structures in arithmetic that have been / might be amenable to inspiration from QFT, in particular the theory of L-functions and the Langlands program.



    Monday, Feb. 5, 2024  
    11:00 am – 12:00 pm Minhyong KimArithmetic topology and field theory (Slides part 1 pdf)
    1:30 – 2:30 pmBrian WilliamsAlgebraic quantum field theory (Lecture Notes)
    2:30 – 3:30 pmDavid Ben-ZviThe Langlands program via arithmetic QFT
    Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024  
    11:00 am – 12:00 pmMinhyong KimArithmetic topology and field theory (Slides part 2 pdf)
    2:30 – 3:30 pmBrian WilliamsAlgebraic quantum field theory (Lecture Notes)
    Thursday, Feb.8, 2024  
    2:30 – 3:30 pmMinhyong KimArithmetic topology and field theory (Slides part 3 pdf)
    4:00 – 5:00 pmDavid Ben-ZviThe Langlands program via arithmetic QFT
    Friday, Feb. 9, 2024  
    1:00 – 2:00 pmBrian WilliamsAlgebraic quantum field theory (Lecture Notes)
    2:00 – 3:00 pmDavid Ben-ZviThe Langlands program via arithmetic QFT
    3:30 – 4:30 pmDavid Ben-ZviThe Langlands program via arithmetic QFT
    Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
    1:00 – 2:00 pmOmer Offen (Brandeis)Period integrals of automorphic forms and the residue method
    Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
    2:00 – 3:00 pmWei Zhang (MIT)Shtuka special cycles and their generating series
    Friday, March 1, 2024
    11:00 am – 12:00 pmChen Wan (Rutgers Newark)Some examples of the relative Langlands duality
    2:00 – 3:00 pmPeng Shan (Tsinghua)Skein algebras and quantized Coulomb branches
    Thursday, March 7, 2024
    1:30 – 2:30 pmAn Huang (Brandeis)Tate’s thesis and p-adic strings
    3:00 – 4:00 pmJohn Francis (Northwestern)Integrating braided categories over 3-manifolds
    Friday, March 8, 2024
    1:00 – 2:00 pmDihua Jiang (U Minnesota)Shalika Periods: Functoriality and Arithmetic
    Friday, March 15, 2024
    11:45 – 1:00 pmBaiying Liu (Purdue)Recent progress on certain problems related to local Arthur packets of classical groups
    2:15 – 3:30 pmTasho Kaletha (Michigan)Covers of reductive groups and functoriality
    Monday, March 18, 2024
    1:00 – 3:00 pmXinwen Zhu (Stanford)The tame categorical local Langlands correspondence (Slides)
    4:30 – 5:30 pmNatalie Paquette (U  Washington)Koszul duality & twisted holography for asymptotically flat spacetimes (CMSA)
    Wednesday, March 20, 2024
    11:00 – 12:15 pmStephen D. Miller (Rutgers)What 4-graviton scattering amplitudes had to say about the unitary dual
    Friday, March 22, 2024
    1:45 – 3:00 pmJayce Getz (Duke)The Poisson summation conjecture and the fiber bundle method
    3:30 – 4:30 pmTBATBA


    Program Visitors

    • Mina Aganagic, University of California, Berkeley
    • Anne-Marie Aubert, Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu-Paris Rive Gauche, March 15-29
    • Clark Barwick, University of Edinburgh, February 19-March 15
    • Alexander Braverman, Perimeter Institute
    • Alejandra Castro, Cambridge University, March 25-29
    • YoungJu Choie, Pohang University of Science and Technology, February 12-16; March 22-28
    • John Francis, Northwestern University, March 1-14
    • David Gaiotto, Perimeter Institute, March 25-29
    • Jayce Getz, Duke University, March 18-22
    • Ezra Getzler, Northwestern University, March 11-22
    • Sam Gunningham, Montana State University, February 9-12
    • Sarah Harrison, Northeastern University
    • Dihua Jiang, University of Minnesota, February 29-March 9
    • Tasho Kaletha, University of Michigan, March 12-20
    • Minhyong Kim, University of Edinburgh, February 1-29
    • Axel Kleinschmidt, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Potsdam, March 18-28
    • Kim Klinger-Logan, Kansas State University, March 25-29
    • Kobi Kremnitzer, Oxford University, March 25-29
    • Baiying Liu, Purdue University, March 13-16
    • Steven Miller, Rutgers University
    • Greg Moore, Rutgers University, February 5-9
    • David Nadler, University of California, Berkeley, March 17-30
    • Bảo Châu Ngô, University of Chicago, March 25-29
    • George Pappas, Michigan State University, March 25-29
    • Daniel Persson, Chalmers Institute of Technology, March 25-29
    • Sam Raskin, Yale University, March 26-29
    • Yiannis Sakellaridis, Johns Hopkins University, March 18-22
    • Peng Shan, Tsinghua University, February 12-April 14
    • Akshay Venkatesh, Institute for Advanced Study
    • Roberto Volpato, University of Padova, February 4-10
    • Chen Wan, Rutgers University, February 29-March 9
    • Fei Yan, Brookhaven National Laboratory, March 18-29
    • Xinwen Zhu, Stanford University


  • Seminars

    Seminars Colloquia & Seminar
    11/7/2018 Hodge Seminar

    1:30 am-3:00 pm
  • Joint Harvard-CUHK-YMSC Differential Geometry

    Joint Harvard-CUHK-YMSC Differential Geometry
    Some remarks on contact Calabi-Yau 7-manifolds

    3:00 am-4:00 am

    Abstract: In geometry and physics it has proved useful to relate G2 and Calabi-Yau geometry via circle bundles. Contact Calabi-Yau 7-manifolds are, in the simplest cases, such circle bundles over Calabi-Yau 3-orbifolds. These 7-manifolds provide testing grounds for the study of geometric flows which seek to find torsion-free G2-structures (and thus Ricci flat metrics with exceptional holonomy). They also give useful backgrounds to examine the heterotic G2 system (also known as the G2-Hull-Strominger system), which is a coupled set of PDEs arising from physics that involves the G2-structure and gauge theory on the 7-manifold. I will report on recent progress on both of these directions in the study of contact Calabi-Yau 7-manifolds, which is joint work with H. Sá Earp and J. Saavedra.

  • Colloquium
    5:00 am

    No additional detail for this event.

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:00 am

    Donald Rubin (Harvard)

    Title: Why do some universities have separate departments of statistics? And are they all anachronisms, destined to follow the path of other dinosaurs?

    Video | Slides

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Yuri Manin (Max Planck Institute for Mathematics)

    Title: Homotopy spectra and Diophantine equations

    Abstract: For a long stretch of time in the history of mathematics, Number Theory and Topology formed vast, but disjoint domains of mathematical knowledge. Origins of number theory can be traced back to the Babylonian clay tablet Plimpton 322 (about 1800 BC)  that contained a list of integer solutions of the “Diophantine” equation $a^2+b^2=c^2$: archetypal theme of number theory, named after Diophantus of Alexandria (about 250 BC). Topology was born much later, but arguably, its cousin — modern measure theory, — goes back to Archimedes, author of Psammites (“Sand Reckoner”), who was approximately a contemporary of Diophantus. In modern language, Archimedes measures the volume of observable universe by counting the number of small grains of sand necessary to fill this volume. Of course, many qualitative geometric models and quantitative estimates of the relevant distances precede his calculations. Moreover, since the estimated numbers of grains of sand are quite large (about $10^{64}$), Archimedes had to invent and describe a system of notation for large numbers going far outside the possibilities of any of the standard ancient systems. The construction of the first bridge between number theory and topology was accomplished only about fifty years ago: it is the theory of spectra in stable homotopy theory. In particular, it connects $Z$, the initial object in the theory of commutative rings, with the sphere spectrum $S$. This connection poses the challenge: discover a new information in number theory using the developed independently machinery of homotopy theory. In this talk based upon the authors’ (Yu. Manin and M. Marcolli) joint research project, I suggest to apply homotopy spectra to the problem of distribution of rational points upon algebraic manifolds.

    Talk chair: Michael Hopkins

    Slides | Video

  • Quantum Matter
    8:00 am-9:30 am
  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Yujiro Kawamata (University of Tokyo)

    Title: Kunihiko Kodaira and complex manifolds

    Abstract: Kodaira’s motivation was to generalize the theory of Riemann surfaces in Weyl’s book to higher dimensions.  After quickly recalling the chronology of Kodaira, I will review some of Kodaira’s works in three sections on topics of harmonic analysis, deformation theory and compact complex surfaces.  Each topic corresponds to a volume of Kodaira’s collected works in three volumes, of which I will cover only tiny parts.

    Talk chair: Baohua Fu


  • Special Seminar
    8:00 am-9:00 am

    During the Spring 2021 Semester Artan Sheshmani (CMSA/ I.M. A.U.) will be teaching a CMSA special lecture series on Gromov-Witten/Donaldson Thomas theory and Birational/Symplectic invariants for algebraic surfaces.

    In order to attend this series, please fill out this form.

    The lectures will be held Mondays from 8:00 – 9:30 AM ET and Wednesdays from 8:00 – 9:00 AM ET beginning January 25 on Zoom.

    You can watch Prof. Sheshmani describe the series here. 

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Andrei Okounkov (Columbia University)

    Title: Classical and quantum integrable systems in enumerative geometry

    Abstract: For more than a quarter of a century, thanks to the ideas and questions originating in modern high-energy physics, there has been a very fruitful interplay between enumerative geometry and integrable system, both classical and quantum. While it is impossible to summarize even the most important aspects of this interplay in one talk, I will try to highlight a few logical points with the goal to explain the place and the role of certain more recent developments.

    Talk chair: Cumrun Vafa


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series

    Math Science Literature Lecture Series Event
    CMSA Math-Science Literature Lecture: Log Calabi-Yau fibrations

    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Caucher Birkar (University of Cambridge)

    Title: Log Calabi-Yau fibrations

    Abstract: Fano and Calabi-Yau varieties play a fundamental role in algebraic geometry, differential geometry, arithmetic geometry, mathematical physics, etc. The notion of log Calabi-Yau fibration unifies Fano and Calabi-Yau varieties, their fibrations, as well as their local birational counterparts such as flips and singularities. Such fibrations can be examined from many different perspectives. The purpose of this talk is to introduce the theory of log Calabi-Yau fibrations, to remind some known results, and to state some open problems.



  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Quantum Information
    8:00 am-6:07 pm

    The Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be hosting a workshop on Quantum Information on April 23-24, 2018. In the days leading up to the conference, the American Mathematical Society will also be hosting a sectional meeting on quantum information on April 21-22. You can find more information here.

    Register for the event here.

    The following speakers are confirmed:

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Alain Connes (Collège de France)

    Title: Noncommutative Geometry, the Spectral Aspect

    Abstract: This talk will be a survey of the spectral side of noncommutative geometry, presenting the new paradigm of spectral triples and showing its relevance for the fine structure of space-time, its large scale structure and also in number theory in connection with the zeros of the Riemann zeta function.

    Talk chair: Peter Kronheimer


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Arthur Jaffe (Harvard University)

    Title: Is relativity compatible with quantum theory?

    Abstract: We review the background, mathematical progress, and open questions in the effort to determine whether one can combine quantum mechanics, special relativity, and interaction together into one mathematical theory. This field of mathematics is known as “constructive quantum field theory.”  Physicists believe that such a theory describes experimental measurements made over a 70 year period and now refined to 13-decimal-point precision—the most accurate experiments ever performed.

    Talk chair: Zhengwei Liu


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Nigel Hitchin (University of Oxford)

    Title: Michael Atiyah: Geometry and Physics

    Abstract: In mid-career, as an internationally renowned mathematician, Michael Atiyah discovered that some problems in physics responded to current work in algebraic geometry and this set him on a path to develop an active interface between mathematics and physics which was formative in the links which are so active today. The talk will focus, in a fairly basic fashion, on some examples of this interaction, which involved both applying physical ideas to solve mathematical problems and introducing mathematical ideas to physicists.

    Talk chair: Peter Kronheimer


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    8:00 am-9:30 am

    Edward Witten (IAS)

    Title: Knot Invariants From Gauge Theory in Three, Four, and Five Dimensions

    Abstract: I will explain connections between a sequence of theories in two, three, four, and five dimensions and describe how these theories are related to the Jones polynomial of a knot and its categorification.

    Talk chair: Cliff Taubes


  • CMSA EVENT: 2019 Big Data Conference
    8:30 am-4:40 pm
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138


    On August 19-20, 2019 the CMSA will be hosting our fifth annual Conference on Big Data. The Conference will feature many speakers from the Harvard community as well as scholars from across the globe, with talks focusing on computer science, statistics, math and physics, and economics.

    The talks will take place in Science Center Hall D, 1 Oxford Street.

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.

    Please note that lunch will not be provided during the conference, but a map of Harvard Square with a list of local restaurants can be found by clicking Map & Restaurants.

    Videos can be found in this Youtube playlist or in the schedule below.

  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Aspects of General Relativity
    8:30 am-3:30 pm

    The Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be hosting a workshop on General Relativity from May 23 – 24, 2016. The workshop will be hosted in Room G10 of the CMSA Building located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138The workshop will start on Monday, May 23 at 9am and end on Tuesday, May 24 at 4pm.


    1. Po-Ning Chen, Columbia University
    2. Piotr T. Chruściel, University of Vienna
    3. Justin Corvino, Lafayette College
    4. Greg Galloway, University of Miami
    5. James Guillochon, Harvard University
    6. Lan-Hsuan Huang, University of Connecticut
    7. Dan Kapec, Harvard University
    8. Dan Lee, CUNY
    9. Alex Lupsasca, Harvard University
    10. Pengzi Miao, University of Miami
    11. Prahar Mitra, Harvard University
    12. Lorenzo Sironi, Harvard University
    13. Jared Speck, MIT
    14. Mu-Tao Wang, Columbia University

    Please click Workshop Program for a downloadable schedule with talk abstracts.

    Please note that lunch will not be provided during the conference, but a map of Harvard Square with a list of local restaurants can be found by clicking Map & Resturants.

    Please click here for registration – Registration is capped at 70 participants.


    May 23 – Day 1
    8:55amOpening remarks
    9:00am – 9:45amGreg Galloway, “Some remarks on photon spheres and their uniqueness
    9:45am – 10:30amPrahar Mitra, “BMS supertranslations and Weinberg’s soft graviton theorem
    10:30am – 11:00amBreak
    11:00am – 11:45amDan Kapec, “Area, Entanglement Entropy and Supertranslations at Null Infinity
    11:45am – 12:30pmPiotr T. Chruściel, “The cosmological constant and the energy of gravitational radiation”
    12:30pm – 2:00pmLunch
    2:00pm – 2:45pmJames Guillochon, “Tidal disruptions of stars by supermassive black holes: dynamics, light, and relics”
    2:45pm – 3:30pmMu-Tao Wang, “Quasi local conserved quantities in general relativity
    3:30pm – 4:00pmBreak
    4:00pm – 4:45pmPo-Ning Chen, “Quasi local energy in presence of gravitational radiations
    4:45pm – 5:30pmPengzi Miao, “Total mean curvature, scalar curvature, and a variational analog of Brown York mass
    May 24 – Day 2
    9:00am – 9:45amJustin Corvino, “Scalar curvature deformation and the Bartnik mass
    9:45am – 10:30amLan-Hsuan Huang, “Constraint Manifolds with the Dominant Energy Condition
    10:30am – 11:00amBreak
    11:00am – 11:45amDan Lee, “Lower semicontinuity of Huisken’s isoperimetric mass
    11:45am – 12:30pmJared Speck, “Shock Formation in Solutions to the Compressible Euler Equations
    12:30pm – 2:00pmLunch
    2:00pm – 2:45pmLorenzo Sironi, “Electron Heating and Acceleration in the Vicinity of Supermassive Black Holes
    2:45pm – 3:30pmAlex Lupsasca, “Near Horizon Extreme Kerr Magnetospheres
    * Click titles for talk videos. All videos are also available on “Harvard CMSA” channel on Youtube, grouped into playlist “Workshop on Aspects on General Relativity“.
    * This event is sponsored by National Science Foundation (NSF) and CMSA Harvard University.

    Organizers: Piotr T. Chruściel and Shing-Tung Yau

  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Foundations of Computational Science
    8:30 am-2:45 pm

    On August 29-31, 2019 the Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be hosting a workshop on Foundations of Computational Science. The workshop will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA This workshop is organized by David Xianfeng Gu.

    Please register here. 


    Videos of the talks are contained in the Youtube playlist below. They can also be found through links in the schedule.

  • Quantum Matter
    8:30 am-10:00 am
  • CMSA EVENT: Morphogenesis: Geometry and Physics
    8:30 am-2:30 pm

    Just over a century ago, the biologist, mathematician and philologist D’Arcy Thompson wrote “On growth and form”. The book – a literary masterpiece – is a visionary synthesis of the geometric biology of form. It also served as a call for mathematical and physical approaches to understanding the evolution and development of shape. In the century since its publication, we have seen a revolution in biology following the discovery of the genetic code, which has uncovered the molecular and cellular basis for life, combined with the ability to probe the chemical, structural, and dynamical nature of molecules, cells, tissues and organs across scales. In parallel, we have seen a blossoming of our understanding of spatiotemporal patterning in physical systems, and a gradual unveiling of the complexity of physical form. So, how far are we from realizing the century-old vision that “Cell and tissue, shell and bone, leaf and flower, are so many portions of matter, and it is in obedience to the laws of physics that their particles have been moved, moulded and conformed” ?

    To address this requires an appreciation of the enormous ‘morphospace’ in terms of the potential shapes and sizes that living forms take, using the language of mathematics. In parallel, we need to consider the biological processes that determine form in mathematical terms is based on understanding how instabilities and patterns in physical systems might be harnessed by evolution.

    In Fall 2018, CMSA will focus on a program that aims at recent mathematical advances in describing shape using geometry and statistics in a biological context, while also considering a range of physical theories that can predict biological shape at scales ranging from macromolecular assemblies to whole organ systems.
    The first workshop will focus on the interface between Morphometrics and Mathematics, while the second will focus on the interface between Morphogenesis and Physics.The workshop is organized by L. Mahadevan (Harvard), O. Pourquie (Harvard), A. Srivastava (Florida).

    As part of the program on Mathematical Biology a workshop on Morphogenesis: Geometry and Physics will take place on December 3-5, 2018.  The workshop will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.


    Please Register Here

    PDF of the Schedule


  • CMSA EVENT: Big Data Conference 2018
    8:30 am-2:50 pm
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138



    On August 23-24, 2018 the CMSA will be hosting our fourth annual Conference on Big Data. The Conference will feature many speakers from the Harvard community as well as scholars from across the globe, with talks focusing on computer science, statistics, math and physics, and economics.

    The talks will take place in Science Center Hall B, 1 Oxford Street.

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.

    Please note that lunch will not be provided during the conference, but a map of Harvard Square with a list of local restaurants can be found by clicking Map & Restaurants.

    Please register here. 

    Confirmed Speakers: 


    • Shing-Tung Yau, William Caspar Graustein Professor of Mathematics, Harvard University
    • Scott Duke Kominers, MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor, Harvard Business
    • Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, Harvard University
    • Jun Liu, Professor of Statistics, Harvard University
    • Horng-Tzer Yau, Professor of Mathematics, Harvard University
  • CMSA EVENT: From Algebraic Geometry to Vision and AI: A Symposium Celebrating the Mathematical Work of David Mumford
    8:30 am-5:20 pm


    On August 18 and 20, 2018, the Center of Mathematic Sciences and Applications and the Harvard University Mathematics Department hosted a conference on From Algebraic Geometry to Vision and AI: A Symposium Celebrating the Mathematical Work of David Mumford. The talks took place in Science Center, Hall B.

     Saturday, August 18th:  A day of talks on Vision, AI and brain sciences
    Monday, August 20th: a day of talks on Math





    Pure and Applied Mathematics Quarterly

    Special Issue: In Honor of David Mumford

    Guest Editors: Ching-Li Chai, Amnon Neeman


  • CMSA EVENT: Geometric Analysis Approach to AI Workshop
    8:30 am-5:30 pm


    Due to inclement weather on Sunday, the second half of the workshop has been moved forward one day. Sunday and Monday’s talks will now take place on Monday and Tuesday.

    On January 18-21, 2019 the Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be hosting a workshop on the Geometric Analysis Approach to AI.

    This workshop will focus on the theoretic foundations of AI, especially various methods in Deep Learning. The topics will cover the relationship between deep learning and optimal transportation theory, DL and information geometry, DL Learning and information bottle neck and renormalization theory, DL and manifold embedding and so on. Furthermore, the recent advancements, novel methods, and real world applications of Deep Learning will also be reported and discussed.

    The workshop will take place from January 18th to January 23rd, 2019. In the first four days, from January 18th to January 21, the speakers will give short courses; On the 22nd and 23rd, the speakers will give conference representations. This workshop is organized by Xianfeng Gu and Shing-Tung Yau.

    The workshop will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.

    Please register here


  • Joint Harvard-CUHK-YMSC Differential Geometry

    Joint Harvard-CUHK-YMSC Differential Geometry
    Angular momentum in general relativity

    8:30 am-9:30 am

    Abstract: The definition of angular momentum in general relativity has been a subtle issue since the 1960′, due to the discovery of “supertranslation ambiguity”: the angular momentums recorded by two distant observers of the same system may not be the same. In this talk, I shall show how the mathematical theory of optimal isometric embedding and quasilocal angular momentum identifies a correction term, and leads to a new definition of angular momentum that is free of any supertranslation ambiguity. This is based on joint work with Po-Ning Chen, Jordan Keller, Ye-Kai Wang, and Shing-Tung Yau.

  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Morphometrics, Morphogenesis and Mathematics
    8:30 am-2:00 pm

    In Fall 2018, the CMSA will host a Program on Mathematical Biology, which aims to describe recent mathematical advances in using geometry and statistics in a biological context, while also considering a range of physical theories that can predict biological shape at scales ranging from macromolecular assemblies to whole organ systems.

    The plethora of natural shapes that surround us at every scale is both bewildering and astounding – from the electron micrograph of a polyhedral virus, to the branching pattern of a gnarled tree to the convolutions in the brain. Even at the human scale, the   shapes seen in a garden at the scale of a pollen grain, a seed, a sapling, a root, a flower or leaf are so numerous that “it is enough to drive the sanest man mad,” wrote Darwin. Can we classify these shapes and understand their origins quantitatively?

    In biology, there is growing interest in and ability to quantify growth and form in the context of the size and shape of bacteria and other protists, to understand how polymeric assemblies grow and shrink (in the cytoskeleton), and how cells divide, change size and shape, and move to organize tissues, change their topology and geometry, and link multiple scales and connect biochemical to mechanical aspects of these problems, all in a self-regulated setting.

    To understand these questions, we need to describe shape (biomathematics), predict shape (biophysics), and design shape (bioengineering).

    For example, in mathematics there are some beautiful links to Nash’s embedding theorem,  connections to quasi-conformal geometry, Ricci flows and geometric PDE, to Gromov’s h principle, to geometrical singularities and singular geometries, discrete and computational differential geometry, to stochastic geometry and shape characterization (a la Grenander, Mumford etc.). A nice question here is to use the large datasets (in 4D) and analyze them using ideas from statistical geometry (a la Taylor, Adler) to look for similarities and differences across species during development, and across evolution.

    In physics, there are questions of generalizing classical theories to include activity, break the usual Galilean invariance, as well as isotropy, frame indifference, homogeneity, and create both agent (cell)-based and continuum theories for ordered, active machines, linking statistical to continuum mechanics, and understanding the instabilities and patterns that arise. Active generalizations of liquid crystals, polar materials, polymers etc. are only just beginning to be explored and there are some nice physical analogs of biological growth/form that are yet to be studied.

    The CMSA will be hosting a Workshop on Morphometrics, Morphogenesis and Mathematics from October 22-24 at the Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.

    The workshop is organized by L. Mahadevan (Harvard), O. Pourquie (Harvard), A. Srivastava (Florida).

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.

    Videos of the talks

    Confirmed Speakers:

  • CMSA EVENT: F-Theory Conference
    8:30 am-3:00 pm

    The CMSA will be hosting an F-Theory workshop September 29-30, 2018. The workshop will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA. 

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.

    Click here for videos of the talks. 



  • CMSA EVENT: 2015 Conference on Big Data
    8:45 am-4:00 pm
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

    The Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be having a conference on Big Data August 24-26, 2015, in Science Center Hall B at Harvard University.  This conference will feature many speakers from the Harvard Community as well as many scholars from across the globe, with talks focusing on computer science, statistics, math and physics, and economics.

    For more info, please contact Sarah LaBauve at slabauve@math.harvard.edu.


    Registration for the conference is now closed.

    Please click here for a downloadable version of this schedule.

    Please note that lunch will not be provided during the conference, but a map of Harvard Square with a list of local restaurants can be found here.

    Monday, August 24

    8:45amMeet and Greet
    9:00amSendhil MullainathanPrediction Problems in Social Science: Applications of Machine Learning to Policy and Behavioral Economics
    9:45amMike LucaDesigning Disclosure for the Digital Age
    10:45Jianqing FanBig Data Big Assumption: Spurious discoveries and endogeneity
    11:30amDaniel GoroffPrivacy and Reproducibility in Data Science
    12:15pmBreak for Lunch
    2:00pmRyan AdamsExact Markov Chain Monte Carlo with Large Data
    2:45pmDavid DunsonScalable Bayes: Simple algorithms with guarantees
    3:45pmMichael JordanComputational thinking, inferential thinking and Big Data
    4:30pmJoel TroppApplied Random Matrix Theory
    5:15pmDavid WoodruffInput Sparsity and Hardness for Robust Subspace Approximation

    Tuesday, August 25

    8:45amMeet and Greet
    9:00amGunnar CarlssonPersistent homology for qualitative analysis and feature generation
    9:45amAndrea MontanariSemidefinite Programming Relaxations for Graph and Matrix Estimation: Algorithms and Phase Transitions
    10:45amSusan AtheyMachine Learning and Causal Inference for Policy Evaluation
    11:30amDenis NekipelovRobust Empirical Evaluation of Large Competitive Markets
    12:15pmBreak for Lunch
    2:00pmLucy ColwellUsing evolutionary sequence variation to make inferences about protein structure and function: Modeling with Random Matrix Theory
    2:45pmSimona CoccoInverse Statistical Physics approaches for the modeling of protein families
    3:45pmRemi MonassonInference of top components of correlation matrices with prior informations
    4:30pmSayan MukherjeeRandom walks on simplicial complexes and higher order notions of spectral clustering




















    A Banquet from 7:00 – 8:30pm will follow Tuesday’s talks. This event is by invitation only.

     Wednesday, August 26 

    8:45amMeet and Greet
    9:00amAnkur MoitraBeyond Matrix Completion
    9:45amFlorent KrzakalaOptimal compressed sensing with spatial coupling and message passing
    10:45amPiotr IndykFast Algorithms for Structured Sparsity
    11:30amGuido ImbensExact p-values for network inference
    12:15pmBreak for lunch
    2:00pmEdo AiroldiSome fundamental ideas for causal inference on large networks
    2:45pmRonitt RubinfeldSomething for almost nothing: sublinear time approximation algorithms
    3:45pmLenka ZdeborovaClustering of sparse networks:  Phase transitions and optimal algorithms
    4:30pmJelani NelsonDimensionality reductions via sparse matrices
  • Member Seminar
    8:45 am-10:15 am

    Speaker: Jörn Boehnke

    Title: Synthetic Regression Discontinuity: Estimating Treatment Effects using Machine Learning

    Abstract:  In the standard regression discontinuity setting, treatment assignment is based on whether a unit’s observable score (running variable) crosses a known threshold.  We propose a two-stage method to estimate the treatment effect when the score is unobservable to the econometrician while the treatment status is known for all units.  In the first stage, we use a statistical model to predict a unit’s treatment status based on a continuous synthetic score.  In the second stage, we apply a regression discontinuity design using the predicted synthetic score as the running variable to estimate the treatment effect on an outcome of interest.  We establish conditions under which the method identifies the local treatment effect for a unit at the threshold of the unobservable score, the same parameter that a standard regression discontinuity design with known score would identify. We also examine the properties of the estimator using simulations, and propose the use machine learning algorithms to achieve high prediction accuracy.  Finally, we apply the method to measure the effect of an investment grade rating on corporate bond prices by any of the three largest credit ratings agencies.  We find an average 1% increase in the prices of corporate bonds that received an investment grade as opposed to a non-investment grade rating.

  • Program
    9:00 am-5:00 pm

    The Math Department and Harvard’s Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications (CMSA) will be running a math program/course for mathematically minded undergraduates this summer. The course will be run by Dr. Yingying Wu from CMSA. Here is a description:

    Summer Introduction to Mathematical Research (sponsored by CMSA and the Harvard Math Department)

    In this course, we will start with an introduction to computer programming, algorithms, and scientific computing. Then we will discuss topics in topology, classical geometry, projective geometry, and differential geometry, and see how they can be applied to machine learning. We will go on to discuss fundamental concepts of deep learning, different deep neural network models, and mathematical interpretations of why deep neural networks are effective from a calculus viewpoint. We will conclude the course with a gentle introduction to cryptography, introducing some of the iconic topics: Yao’s Millionaires’ problem, zero-knowledge proof, the multi-party computation algorithm, and its proof.

    The program hopes to provide several research mentors from various disciplines who will give some of the course lectures. Students will have the opportunity to work with one of the research mentors offered by the program.

    Prerequisites: Basic coding ability in some programming language (C/Python/Matlab or CS50 experience). Some background in calculus and linear algebra is needed too. If you wish to work with a research mentor on differential geometry, more background in geometry such as from Math 132 or 136 will be useful. If you wish to work with a research mentor on computer science, coding experience mentioned above will be very useful. If you wish to work with a medical scientist, some background in life science or basic organic chemistry is recommended.

    The course will meet 3 hours per week for 7 weeks via Zoom on days and times that will be scheduled for the convenience of the participants. There may be other times to be arranged for special events.

    This program is only open to current Harvard undergraduates; both Mathematics concentrators and non-math concentrators are invited to apply. People already enrolled in a Math Department summer tutorial are welcome to partake in this program also. As with the summer tutorials, there is no association with the Harvard Summer School; and neither Math concentration credit nor Harvard College credit will be given for completing this course. This course has no official Harvard status and enrollment does not qualify you for any Harvard-related perks (such as a place to live if you are in Boston over the summer.)

    However: As with the summer tutorials, those enrolled are eligible* to receive a stipend of $700, and if you are a Mathematics concentrator, any written paper for the course can be submitted to fulfill the Math Concentration third-year paper requirement. (*The stipend is not available for people already receiving a stipend via the Math Department’s summer tutorial program, nor is it available for PRISE participants or participants in the Herchel Smith program.)

    If you wish to join this program, please email Cliff Taubes (chtaubes@math.harvard.edu). The enrollment is limited, so don’t wait too long to apply.

  • CMSA EVENT: Joint BHI/CMSA Conference on Flat Holography
    9:00 am-5:00 pm

    On June 21–24, 2022, the Harvard Black Hole Initiative and the CMSA hosted the Joint BHI/CMSA Conference on Flat Holography (and related topics).

    The recent discovery of infinitely-many soft symmetries for all quantum theories of gravity in asymptotically flat space has provided a promising starting point for a bottom-up construction of a holographic dual for the real world. Recent developments have brought together previously disparate studies of soft theorems, asymptotic symmetries, twistor theory, asymptotically flat black holes and their microscopic duals, self-dual gravity, and celestial scattering amplitudes, and link directly to AdS/CFT.

    The conference was held in room G10 of the CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.


    • Daniel Kapec, CMSA
    • Andrew Strominger, BHI
    • Shing-Tung Yau, Harvard & Tsinghua

    Confirmed Speakers:

    • Nima Arkani-Hamed, IAS
    • Shamik Banerjee, Bhubaneswar, Inst. Phys.
    • Miguel Campiglia, Republica U., Montevido
    • Geoffrey Compere, Brussels
    • Laura Donnay, Vienna
    • Netta Engelhardt, MIT
    • Laurent Freidel, Perimeter
    • Alex Lupsasca, Princeton
    • Juan Maldacena, IAS
    • Lionel Mason, Oxford
    • Natalie Paquette, U. Washington
    • Sabrina Pasterski, Princeton/Perimeter
    • Andrea Puhm, Ecole Polytechnique
    • Ana-Maria Raclariu, Perimeter
    • Marcus Spradlin, Brown
    • Tomasz Taylor, Northeastern
    • Herman Verlinde, Princeton
    • Anastasia Volovich, Brown
    • Bin Zhu, Northeastern

    Short talks by: Gonçalo Araujo-Regado (Cambridge), Adam Ball (Harvard), Eduardo Casali (Harvard), Jordan Cotler (Harvard), Erin Crawley (Harvard), Stéphane Detournay (Brussels), Alfredo Guevara (Harvard), Temple He (UC Davis), Elizabeth Himwich (Harvard), Yangrui Hu (Brown), Daniel Kapec (Harvard), Rifath Khan (Cambridge), Albert Law (Harvard), Luke Lippstreu (Brown), Noah Miller (Harvard), Sruthi Narayanan (Harvard), Lecheng Ren (Brown), Francisco Rojas (UAI), Romain Ruzziconi (Vienna), Andrew Strominger (Harvard), Adam Tropper (Harvard), Tianli Wang (Harvard), Walker Melton (Harvard)


    Monday, June 20, 2022

    7:00–9:00 pmWelcome Reception at Andy’s residence


    Tuesday, June 21, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfastlight breakfast provided
    Morning SessionChair: Dan Kapec
    9:30–10:00 amHerman VerlindeTitle: Comments on Celestial Dynamics
    10:00–10:30 amJuan MaldacenaTitle: What happens when you spend too much time looking at supersymmetric
    black holes?
    10:30–11:00Coffee break
    11:00–11:30 amMiguel CampigliaTitle: Asymptotic symmetries and loop corrections to soft theorems
    11:30–12:00 pmGeoffrey CompereTitle: Metric reconstruction from $Lw_{1+\infty}$ multipoles

    Abstract: The most general vacuum solution to Einstein’s field equations with no incoming radiation can be constructed perturbatively from two infinite sets of canonical multipole moments, which are found to be exchanged under gravitational electric-magnetic duality at the non-linear level. We demonstrate that in non-radiative regions such spacetimes are completely determined by a set of conserved celestial charges, which uniquely label transitions among non-radiative regions caused by radiative processes. The algebra of the conserved celestial charges is derived from the real $Lw_{1+\infty}$ algebra. The celestial charges are expressed in terms of multipole moments, which allows to holographically reconstruct the metric in de Donder, Newman-Unti or Bondi gauge outside of sources.

    12:00–2:00 pmLunch break
    Afternoon SessionChair: Eduardo Casali
    2:00–2:30 pmNatalie PaquetteTitle: New thoughts on old gauge amplitudes
    2:30–3:00 pmLionel MasonTitle: An open sigma model for celestial gravity

    Abstract: A global twistor construction for conformally self-dual split signature metrics on $S2\times S2$  was developed 15 years ago by Claude LeBrun and the speaker.  This encodes the conformal metric into the location of a finite deformation of the real twistor space inside the flat complex twistor space, $\mathbb{CP}3$. This talk adapts the construction to construct global SD Einstein metrics from conformal boundary data and perturbations around the self-dual sector.  The construction entails determining a family of holomorphic discs in $\mathbb{CP}3$ whose boundaries lie on the deformed real slice and the (chiral) sigma model controls these discs in the Einstein case and provides amplitude formulae.

    3:00–3:30 pmCoffee break
    3:30–4:30 pmShort TalksDaniel Kapec: Soft Scalars and the Geometry of the Space of Celestial CFTs

    Albert Law: Soft Scalars and the Geometry of the Space of Celestial CFTs

    Sruthi Narayanan: Soft Scalars and the Geometry of the Space of Celestial CFTs

    Stéphane Detournay: Non-conformal symmetries and near-extremal black holes

    Francisco Rojas: Celestial string amplitudes beyond tree level

    Temple He: An effective description of energy transport from holography

    4:30–5:00 pmNima Arkani-Hamed(Dual) surfacehedra and flow particles know about strings


    Wednesday, June 22, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfastlight breakfast provided
    Morning SessionChair: Alfredo Guevara
    9:30–10:00 amLaurent FreidelTitle: Higher spin symmetry in gravity

    Abstract: In this talk, I will review how the gravitational conservation laws at infinity reveal a tower of symmetry charges in an asymptotically flat spacetime.
    I will show how the conservation laws, at spacelike infinity, give a tower of soft theorems that connect to the ones revealed by celestial holography.
    I’ll present the expression for the symmetry charges in the radiative phase space, which opens the way to reveal the structure of the algebra beyond the positive helicity sector. Then, if time permits I’ll browse through many questions that these results raise:
    such as the nature of the spacetime symmetry these charges represent, the nature of the relationship with multipole moments, and the insights their presence provides for quantum gravity.

    10:00–10:30 amAna-Maria RaclariuTitle: Eikonal approximation in celestial CFT
    10:30–11:00 amCoffee break
    11:00–11:30 amAnastasia VolovichTitle: Effective Field Theories with Celestial Duals
    11:30–12:00 pmMarcus SpradlinTitle: Loop level gluon OPE’s in celestial holography
    12:00–2:00 pmLunch break
    Afternoon SessionChair: Chiara Toldo
    2:00–2:30 pmNetta EngelhardtTitle: Wormholes from entanglement: true or false?
    2:30–3:00 pmShort TalksLuke Lippstreu: Loop corrections to the OPE of celestial gluons

    Yangrui Hu: Light transforms of celestial amplitudes

    Lecheng Ren: All-order OPE expansion of celestial gluon and graviton primaries from MHV amplitudes

    3:00–3:30 pmCoffee break
    3:30–4:30 pmShort TalksNoah Miller: C Metric Thermodynamics

    Erin Crawley: Kleinian black holes

    Rifath Khan: Cauchy Slice Holography: A New AdS/CFT Dictionary

    Gonçalo Araujo-Regado: Cauchy Slice Holography: A New AdS/CFT Dictionary

    Tianli Wang: Soft Theorem in the BFSS Matrix Model

    Adam Tropper: Soft Theorem in the BFSS Matrix Model

    7:00–9:00 pmBanquetMaharaja Restaurant, 57 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA


    Thursday, June 23, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfastlight breakfast provided
    Morning SessionChair: Jordan Cotler
    9:30–10:00 amLaura DonnayTitle: A Carrollian road to flat space holography
    10:00–10:30 amAndrea PuhmTitle: Celestial wave scattering on Kerr-Schild backgrounds
    10:30–11:00 amCoffee break
    11:00–11:30 amSabrina PasterskiTitle: Mining Celestial Symmetries

    Abstract: The aim of this talk is to delve into the common thread that ties together recent work with H. Verlinde, L. Donnay, A. Puhm, and S. Banerjee exploring, explaining, and exploiting the symmetries encoded in the conformally soft sector.

    Come prepared to debate the central charge, loop corrections, contour prescriptions, and orders of limits!

    11:30–12:00 pmShamik BanerjeeTitle: Virasoro and other symmetries in CCFT

    Abstract:  In this talk I will briefly describe my ongoing work with Sabrina Pasterski. In this work we revisit the standard construction of the celestial stress tensor as a shadow of the subleading conformally soft graviton.  In its original formulation, we find that there is an obstruction to reproducing the expected $TT$ OPE in the double soft limit. This obstruction is related to the existence of the $SL_2$ current algebra symmetry of the CCFT. We propose a modification to the definition of the stress tensor which circumvents this obstruction and also discuss its implications for the existence of other current algebra (w_{1+\infty}) symmetries in CCFT.

    12:00–2:00 pmLunch break
    Afternoon SessionChair: Albert Law
    2:00–2:30 pmTomasz TaylorTitle: Celestial Yang-Mills amplitudes and D=4 conformal blocks
    2:30–3:00 pmBin ZhuTitle:  Single-valued correlators and Banerjee-Ghosh equations

    Abstract:  Low-point celestial amplitudes are plagued with singularities resulting from spacetime translation. We consider a marginal deformation of the celestial CFT which is realized by coupling Yang-Mills theory to a background dilaton field, with the (complex) dilaton source localized on the celestial sphere. This picture emerges from the physical interpretation of the solutions of the system of differential equations discovered by Banerjee and Ghosh. We show that the solutions can be written as Mellin transforms of the amplitudes evaluated in such a dilaton background. The resultant three-gluon and four-gluon amplitudes are single-valued functions of celestial coordinates enjoying crossing symmetry and all other properties expected from standard CFT correlators.

    3:00–3:30 pmCoffee break
    3:30–4:00 pmAlex LupsascaTitle: Holography of the Photon Ring
    4:00–5:30 pmShort TalksElizabeth Himwich: Celestial OPEs and w(1+infinity) symmetry of massless and massive amplitudes

    Adam Ball: Perturbatively exact $w_{1+\infty}$ asymptotic symmetry of quantum self-dual gravity

    Romain Ruzziconi: A Carrollian Perspective on Celestial Holography

    Jordan Cotler: Soft Gravitons in 3D

    Alfredo Guevara: Comments on w_1+\inf

    Andrew Strominger: Top-down celestial holograms

    Eduardo Casali: Celestial amplitudes as AdS-Witten diagrams

    Walker Melton: Top-down celestial holograms


    Friday, June 24, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfast
    9:30–12:30 pmOpen Discussion
    12:30–2:30 pmLunch provided at the BHI


  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: In spatial population genetics, it is important to understand the probability of extinction in multi-species interactions such as growing bacterial colonies, cancer tumor evolution and human migration. This is because extinction probabilities are instrumental in determining the probability of coexistence and the genealogies of populations. A key challenge is the complication due to spatial effect and different sources of stochasticity. In this talk, I will discuss about methods to compute the probability of extinction and other long-time behaviors for stochastic reaction-diffusion equations on metric graphs that flexibly parametrizes the underlying space. Based on recent joint work with Adrian Gonzalez-Casanova and Yifan (Johnny) Yang.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    Speaker: Jianfeng Lu, Duke UniversityTitle: Surface hopping algorithms for non-adiabatic quantum systems

    Abstract: Surface hopping algorithm is widely used in chemistry for mixed quantum-classical dynamics. In this talk, we will discuss some of our recent works in mathematical understanding and algorithm development for surface hopping methods. These methods are based on stochastic approximations of semiclassical path-integral representation to the solution of multi-level Schrodinger equations; such methodology also extends to other high-dimensional transport systems.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: Conditional independence (CI) is an important tool instatistical modeling, as, for example, it gives a statistical interpretation to graphical models. In general, given a list of dependencies among random variables, it is difficult to say which constraints are implied by them. Moreover, it is important to know what constraints on the random variables are caused by hidden variables. On the other hand, such constraints are corresponding to some determinantal conditions on the tensor of joint probabilities of the observed random variables. Hence, the inference question in statistics relates to understanding the algebraic and geometric properties of determinantal varieties such as their irreducible decompositions or determining their defining equations. I will explain some recent progress that arises by uncovering the link to point configurations in matroid theory and incidence geometry. This connection, in particular, leads to effective computational approaches for (1) giving a decomposition for each CI variety; (2) identifying each component in the decomposition as a matroid variety; (3) determining whether the variety has a real point or equivalently there is a statistical model satisfying a given collection of dependencies. The talk is based on joint works with Oliver Clarke, Kevin Grace, and Harshit Motwani.

    The papers are available on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2011.02450
    and https://arxiv.org/pdf/2103.16550.pdf

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    Some new algorithms in statistical genomics

    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: The statistical analysis of genomic data has incubated many innovations for computational method development. This talk will discuss some simple algorithms that may be useful in analyzing such data. Examples include algorithms for efficient resampling-based hypothesis testing, minimizing the sum of truncated convex functions, and fitting equality-constrained lasso problems. These algorithms have the potential to be used in other applications beyond statistical genomics.

    Bio: Hui Jiang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in Computational and Mathematical Engineering from Stanford University. Before joining the University of Michigan, he was a postdoc in the Department of Statistics and Stanford Genome Technology Center at Stanford University. He is interested in developing statistical and computational methods for analyzing large-scale biological data generated using modern high-throughput technologies.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    5/27/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Colloquium
    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    5/20/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Conference
    9:00 am-6:00 pm
    150 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

    SMaSH: Symposium for Mathematical Sciences at Harvard

    On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Harvard Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications (CMSA) held a Symposium for Mathematical Sciences for the mathematical sciences community at Harvard.

    Organizing Committee

    • Michael Brenner, Applied Mathematics (SEAS)
    • Michael Desai, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (FAS)
    • Sam Gershman, Psychology (FAS)
    • Michael Hopkins, Mathematics (FAS)
    • Gary King, Government (FAS)
    • Peter Koellner, Philosophy (FAS)
    • Scott Kominers, Economics (FAS) & Entrepreneurial Management (HBS)
    • Xihong Lin, Biostatistics (HSPH) & Statistics (FAS)
    • Yue Lu, Electrical Engineering (SEAS)
    • Susan Murphy, Statistics (FAS) & Computer Science (SEAS)
    • Lisa Randall, Physics (SEAS)
    • Eugene Shakhnovich, Chemistry (FAS)
    • Salil Vadhan, Computer Science (SEAS)
    • Horng-Tzer Yau, Mathematics (FAS)

    This event was held in-person at the Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) at 150 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134, and streamed on Zoom.

    Harvard graduate students and postdocs presented Poster Sessions.

    Venue: Science and Engineering Complex (SEC)


    • Anurag Anshu, Computer Science (SEAS)
    • Morgane Austern, Statistics (FAS)
    • Demba Ba, Electrical Engineering & Bioengineering (SEAS)
    • Michael Brenner, Applied Mathematics (SEAS)
    • Rui Duan, Biostatistics (HSPH)
    • Yannai A. Gonczarowski, Economics (FAS) & Computer Science (SEAS)
    • Kosuke Imai, Government & Statistics (FAS)
    • Sham M. Kakade, Computer Science (SEAS) & Statistics (FAS)
    • Seth Neel, Technology & Operations Management (HBS)
    • Melanie Matchett Wood, Mathematics (FAS)

    Schedule PDF


    9:00–9:30 amCoffee and Breakfast
    West Atrium (ground floor of the SEC)
    9:30–10:30 amFaculty Talks
    Winokur Family Hall Classroom (Room 1.321) located just off of the West AtriumKosuke Imai, Government & Statistics (FAS): Use of Simulation Algorithms for Legislative Redistricting Analysis and EvaluationYannai A. Gonczarowski, Economics (FAS) & Computer Science (SEAS): The Sample Complexity of Up-to-ε Multi-Dimensional Revenue Maximization
    10:30–11:00 amCoffee Break
    West Atrium (ground floor of the SEC)
    11:00–12:00 pmFaculty Talks
    Winokur Family Hall Classroom (Room 1.321) located just off of the West AtriumSeth Neel, Technology & Operations Management (HBS): “Machine (Un)Learning” or Why Your Deployed Model Might Violate Existing Privacy LawDemba Ba, Electrical Engineering & Bioengineering (SEAS): Geometry, AI, and the Brain
    12:00–1:00 pmLunch Break
    Engineering Yard Tent
    1:00–2:30 pmFaculty Talks
    Winokur Family Hall Classroom (Room 1.321) located just off of the West AtriumMelanie Matchett Wood, Mathematics (FAS): Understanding distributions of algebraic structures through their momentsMorgane Austern, Statistics (FAS): Limit theorems for structured random objectsAnurag Anshu, Computer Science (SEAS): Operator-valued polynomial approximations and their use.
    2:30–3:00 pmCoffee Break
    West Atrium (ground floor of the SEC)
    3:00–4:30 pmFaculty Talks
    Winokur Family Hall Classroom (Room 1.321) located just off of the West AtriumMichael Brenner, Applied Mathematics (SEAS): Towards living synthetic materialsRui Duan, Biostatistics (HSPH): Federated and transfer learning for healthcare data integrationSham M. Kakade, Computer Science (SEAS) & Statistics (FAS): What is the Statistical Complexity of Reinforcement Learning?
    4:30–5:30 pmReception with Jazz musicians
    & Poster Session
    Engineering Yard Tent

    Faculty Talks

    SpeakerTitle / Abstract / Bio
    Anurag Anshu, Computer Science (SEAS)Title: Operator-valued polynomial approximations and their use.

    Abstract: Approximation of complicated functions with low degree polynomials is an indispensable tool in mathematics. This becomes particularly relevant in computer science, where the complexity of interesting functions is often captured by the degree of the approximating polynomials. This talk concerns the approximation of operator-valued functions (such as the exponential of a hermitian matrix, or the intersection of two projectors) with low-degree operator-valued polynomials. We will highlight the challenges that arise in achieving similarly good approximations as real-valued functions, as well as recent methods to overcome them. We will discuss applications to the ground states in physics and quantum complexity theory: correlation lengths, area laws and concentration bounds.

    Bio: Anurag Anshu is an Assistant Professor of computer science at Harvard University. He spends a lot of time exploring the rich structure of quantum many-body systems from the viewpoint of quantum complexity theory, quantum learning theory and quantum information theory. He held postdoctoral positions at University of California, Berkeley and University of Waterloo and received his PhD from National University of Singapore, focusing on quantum communication complexity.

    Morgane Austern, Statistics (FAS)Title: Limit theorems for structured random objects

    Abstract: Statistical inference relies on numerous tools from probability theory to study the properties of estimators. Some of the most central ones are the central limit theorem and the free central limit theorem. However, these same tools are often inadequate to study modern machine problems that frequently involve structured data (e.g networks) or complicated dependence structures (e.g dependent random matrices). In this talk, we extend universal limit theorems beyond the classical setting. We consider distributionally “structured’ and dependent random object i.e random objects whose distribution is invariant under the action of an amenable group. We show, under mild moment and mixing conditions, a series of universal second and third order limit theorems: central-limit theorems, concentration inequalities, Wigner semi-circular law and Berry-Esseen bounds. The utility of these will be illustrated by a series of examples in machine learning, network and information theory.

    Bio: Morgane Austern is an assistant professor in the Statistics Department of Harvard University. Broadly, she is interested in developing probability tools for modern machine learning and in establishing the properties of learning algorithms in structured and dependent data contexts. She graduated with a PhD in statistics from Columbia University in 2019 where she worked in collaboration with Peter Orbanz and Arian Maleki on limit theorems for dependent and structured data. She was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research New England from 2019 to 2021.

    Demba Ba, Electrical Engineering & Bioengineering (SEAS)Title: Geometry, AI, and the Brain

    Abstract: A large body of experiments suggests that neural computations reflect, in some sense, the geometry of “the world”. How do artificial and neural systems learn representations of “the world” that reflect its geometry? How, for instance, do we, as humans, learn representations of objects, e.g. fruits, that reflect the geometry of object space? Developing artificial systems that can capture/understand the geometry of the data they process may enable them to learn representations useful in many different contexts and tasks. My talk will describe an artificial neural-network architecture that, starting from a simple union-of-manifold model of data comprising objects from different categories, mimics some aspects of how primates learn, organize, and retrieve concepts, in a manner that respects the geometry of object space.

    Bio: Demba Ba serves as an Associate Professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering in Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where he directs the CRISP group. Recently, he has taken a keen interest in the connection between artificial neural networks and sparse signal processing. His group leverages this connection to solve data-driven unsupervised learning problems in neuroscience, to understand the principles of hierarchical representations of sensory signals in the brain, and to develop explainable AI. In 2016, he received a Research Fellowship in Neuroscience from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In 2021, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences awarded him the Roslyn Abramson award for outstanding undergraduate teaching.

    Michael Brenner, Applied Mathematics (SEAS)Title: Towards living synthetic materials

    Abstract: Biological materials are much more complicated and functional than synthetic ones. Over the past several years we have been trying to figure out why. A sensible hypothesis is that biological materials are programmable. But we are very far from being able to program materials we create with this level of sophistication.  I will discuss our (largely unsuccessful) efforts to bridge this gap, though as of today I’m somewhat optimistic that we are arriving at a set of theoretical models that is rich enough to produce relevant emergent behavior.

    Bio: I’ve been at Harvard for a long time. My favorite part of Harvard is the students.

    Rui Duan, Biostatistics (HSPH)Title: Federated and transfer learning for healthcare data integration

    Abstract: The growth of availability and variety of healthcare data sources has provided unique opportunities for data integration and evidence synthesis, which can potentially accelerate knowledge discovery and improve clinical decision-making. However, many practical and technical challenges, such as data privacy, high dimensionality, and heterogeneity across different datasets, remain to be addressed. In this talk, I will introduce several methods for the effective and efficient integration of multiple healthcare datasets in order to train statistical or machine learning models with improved generalizability and transferability. Specifically, we develop communication-efficient federated learning algorithms for jointly analyzing multiple datasets without the need of sharing patient-level data, as well as transfer learning approaches that leverage shared knowledge learned across multiple datasets to improve the performance of statistical models in target populations of interest. We will discuss both the theoretical properties and examples of implementation of our methods in real-world research networks and data consortia.

    Bio: Rui Duan is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She received her Ph.D. in Biostatistics in May 2020 from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests focus on developing statistical, machine learning, and informatics tools for (1) efficient data integration in biomedical research, (2) understanding and accounting for the heterogeneity of biomedical data, and improving the generalizability and transferability of models across populations (3) advancing precision medicine research on rare diseases and underrepresented populations.

    Yannai A. Gonczarowski, Economics (FAS) & Computer Science (SEAS)Title: The Sample Complexity of Up-to-ε Multi-Dimensional Revenue Maximization

    Abstract: We consider the sample complexity of revenue maximization for multiple bidders in unrestricted multi-dimensional settings. Specifically, we study the standard model of n additive bidders whose values for m heterogeneous items are drawn independently. For any such instance and any ε > 0, we show that it is possible to learn an ε-Bayesian Incentive Compatible auction whose expected revenue is within ε of the optimal ε-BIC auction from only polynomially many samples.

    Our fully nonparametric approach is based on ideas that hold quite generally, and completely sidestep the difficulty of characterizing optimal (or near-optimal) auctions for these settings. Therefore, our results easily extend to general multi-dimensional settings, including valuations that are not necessarily even subadditive, and arbitrary allocation constraints. For the cases of a single bidder and many goods, or a single parameter (good) and many bidders, our analysis yields exact incentive compatibility (and for the latter also computational efficiency). Although the single-parameter case is already well-understood, our corollary for this case extends slightly the state-of-the-art.

    Joint work with S. Matthew Weinberg

    Bio: Yannai A. Gonczarowski is an Assistant Professor of Economics and of Computer Science at Harvard University—the first faculty member at Harvard to have been appointed to both of these departments. Interested in both economic theory and theoretical computer science, Yannai explores computer-science-inspired economics: he harnesses approaches, aesthetics, and techniques traditionally originating in computer science to derive economically meaningful insights. Yannai received his PhD from the Departments of Math and CS, and the Center for the Study of Rationality, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he was advised by Sergiu Hart and Noam Nisan. Yannai is also a professionally-trained opera singer, having acquired a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Classical Singing at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Yannai’s doctoral dissertation was recognized with several awards, including the 2018 Michael B. Maschler Prize of the Israeli Chapter of the Game Theory Society, and the ACM SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award for 2018. For the design and implementation of the National Matching System for Gap-Year Programs in Israel, he was awarded the Best Paper Award at MATCH-UP’19 and the inaugural INFORMS AMD Michael H. Rothkopf Junior Researcher Paper Prize (first place) for 2020. Yannai is also the recipient of the inaugural ACM SIGecom Award for Best Presentation by a Student or Postdoctoral Researcher at EC’18. His first textbook, “Mathematical Logic through Python” (Gonczarowski and Nisan), which introduces a new approach to teaching the material of a basic Logic course to Computer Science students, tailored to the unique intuitions and strengths of this cohort of students, is forthcoming in Cambridge University Press.

    Kosuke Imai, Government & Statistics (FAS)Title: Use of Simulation Algorithms for Legislative Redistricting Analysis and Evaluation

    Abstract: After the 2020 Census, many states have been redrawing the boundaries of Congressional and state legislative districts. To evaluate the partisan and racial bias of redistricting plans, scholars have developed Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. The idea is to generate a representative sample of redistricting plans under a specified set of criteria and conduct a statistical hypothesis test by comparing a proposed plan with these simulated plans. I will give a brief overview of these redistricting simulation algorithms and discuss how they are used in real-world court cases.

    Bio: Kosuke Imai is Professor in the Department of Government and Department of Statistics at Harvard University. Before moving to Harvard in 2018, Imai taught at Princeton University for 15 years where he was the founding director of the Program in Statistics and Machine Learning. Imai specializes in the development of statistical methods and machine learning algorithms and their applications to social science research. His areas of expertise include causal inference, computational social science, program evaluation, and survey methodology.

    Sham M. Kakade, Computer Science (SEAS) & Statistics (FAS)Title: What is the Statistical Complexity of Reinforcement Learning?

    Abstract: This talk will highlight much of the recent progress on the following fundamental question in the theory of reinforcement learning: what (representational or structural) conditions govern our ability to generalize and avoid the curse of dimensionality?  With regards to supervised learning, these questions are reasonably well understood, both practically and theoretically: practically, we have overwhelming evidence on the value of representational learning (say through modern deep networks) as a means for sample efficient learning, and, theoretically, there are well-known complexity measures (e.g. the VC dimension and Rademacher complexity) that govern the statistical complexity of learning.  Providing an analogous theory for reinforcement learning is far more challenging, where even characterizing structural conditions which support sample efficient generalization has been far less well understood, until recently.

    This talk will survey recent advances towards characterizing when generalization is possible in RL, focusing on both necessary and sufficient conditions. In particular, we will introduce a new complexity measure, the Decision-Estimation Coefficient, that is proven to be necessary (and, essentially, sufficient) for sample-efficient interactive learning.

    Bio: Sham Kakade is a professor at Harvard University and a co-director of the Kempner Institute for the Study of Artificial and Natural Intelligence.  He works on the mathematical foundations of machine learning and AI. Sham’s thesis helped lay the statistical foundations of reinforcement learning. With his collaborators, his additional contributions include foundational results on: policy gradient methods in reinforcement learning; regret bounds for linear bandit and Gaussian process bandit models; the tensor and spectral methods for latent variable models; and a number of convergence analyses for convex and non-convex algorithms.  He is the recipient of the ICML Test of Time Award, the IBM Pat Goldberg best paper award, and INFORMS Revenue Management and Pricing Prize. He has been program chair for COLT 2011.

    Sham was an undergraduate at Caltech, where he studied physics and worked under the guidance of John Preskill in quantum computing. He completed his Ph.D. with Peter Dayan in computational neuroscience at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. He was a postdoc with Michael Kearns at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Seth Neel, Technology & Operations Management (HBS)Title: “Machine (Un)Learning” or Why Your Deployed Model Might Violate Existing Privacy Law

    Abstract:  Businesses like Facebook and Google depend on training sophisticated models on user data. Increasingly—in part because of regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act—these organizations are receiving requests to delete the data of particular users. But what should that mean? It is straightforward to delete a customer’s data from a database and stop using it to train future models. But what about models that have already been trained using an individual’s data? These are not necessarily safe; it is known that individual training data can be exfiltrated from models trained in standard ways via model inversion attacks. In a series of papers we help formalize a rigorous notion of data-deletion and propose algorithms to efficiently delete user data from trained models with provable guarantees in both convex and non-convex settings.

    Bio: Seth Neel is a first-year Assistant Professor in the TOM Unit at Harvard Business School, and Co-PI of the SAFR ML Lab in the D3 Institute, which develops methodology to incorporate privacy and fairness guarantees into techniques for machine learning and data analysis, while balancing other critical considerations like accuracy, efficiency, and interpretability. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020 where he was an NSF graduate fellow. His work has focused primarily on differential privacy, notions of fairness in a variety of machine learning settings, and adaptive data analysis.

    Melanie Matchett Wood, Mathematics (FAS)Title: Understanding distributions of algebraic structures through their moments

    Abstract: A classical tool of probability and analysis is to use the moments (mean, variance, etc.) of a distribution to recognize an unknown distribution of real numbers.  In recent work, we are interested in distributions of algebraic structures that can’t be captured in a single number.  We will explain one example, the fundamental group, that captures something about the shapes of possibly complicated or high dimensional spaces.  We are developing a new theory of the moment problem for random algebraic structures which helps to to identify distributions of such, such as fundamental groups of random three dimensional spaces.  This talk is based partly on joint work with Will Sawin.

    Bio: Melanie Matchett Wood is a professor of mathematics at Harvard University and a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.  Her work spans number theory, algebraic geometry, algebraic topology, additive combinatorics, and probability. Wood has been awarded a CAREER grant, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, and the AWM-Microsoft Research Prize in Algebra and Number Theory, and she is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In 2021, Wood received the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, the nation’s highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers.

  • CMSA EVENT: Symposium on Foundations of Responsible Computing (FORC)
    9:00 am-5:00 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    On June 6-8, 2022, the CMSA hosted the 3rd annual Symposium on Foundations of Responsible Computing (FORC).

    The Symposium on Foundations of Responsible Computing (FORC) is a forum for mathematical research in computation and society writ large.  The Symposium aims to catalyze the formation of a community supportive of the application of theoretical computer science, statistics, economics and other relevant analytical fields to problems of pressing and anticipated societal concern.

    Organizers: Cynthia Dwork, Harvard SEAS | Omer Reingold, Stanford | Elisa Celis, Yale



    June 6, 2022

    9:15 am–10:15 amOpening Remarks

    Keynote Speaker: Caroline Nobo, Yale University

    Title: From Theory to Impact: Why Better Data Systems are Necessary for Criminal Legal Reform

    Abstract: This talk will dive into the messy, archaic, and siloed world of local criminal justice data in America. We will start with a 30,000 foot discussion about the current state of criminal legal data systems, then transition to the challenges of this broken paradigm, and conclude with a call to measure new things – and to measure them better! This talk will leave you with an understanding of criminal justice data infrastructure and transparency in the US, and will discuss how expensive case management software and other technology are built on outdated normative values which impede efforts to reform the system. The result is an infuriating paradox: an abundance of tech products built without theoretical grounding, in a space rich with research and evidence.

    10:15 am–10:45 amCoffee Break
    10:45 am–12:15 pmPaper Session 1Session Chair: Ruth Urner
    Georgy Noarov, University of PennsylvaniaTitle: Online Minimax Multiobjective Optimization

    Abstract: We introduce a simple but general online learning framework in which a learner plays against an adversary in a vector-valued game that changes every round. The learner’s objective is to minimize the maximum cumulative loss over all coordinates. We give a simple algorithm that lets the learner do almost as well as if she knew the adversary’s actions in advance. We demonstrate the power of our framework by using it to (re)derive optimal bounds and efficient algorithms across a variety of domains, ranging from multicalibration to a large set of no-regret algorithms, to a variant of Blackwell’s approachability theorem for polytopes with fast convergence rates. As a new application, we show how to “(multi)calibeat” an arbitrary collection of forecasters — achieving an exponentially improved dependence on the number of models we are competing against, compared to prior work.

    Matthew Eichhorn, Cornell UniversityTitle: Mind your Ps and Qs: Allocation with Priorities and Quotas

    Abstract: In many settings, such as university admissions, the rationing of medical supplies, and the assignment of public housing, decision-makers use normative criteria (ethical, financial, legal, etc.) to justify who gets an allocation. These criteria can often be translated into quotas for the number of units available to particular demographics and priorities over agents who qualify in each demographic. Each agent may qualify in multiple categories at different priority levels, so many allocations may conform to a given set of quotas and priorities. Which of these allocations should be chosen? In this talk, I’ll formalize this reserve allocation problem and motivate Pareto efficiency as a natural desideratum. I’ll present an algorithm to locate efficient allocations that conform to the quota and priority constraints. This algorithm relies on beautiful techniques from integer and linear programming, and it is both faster and more straightforward than existing techniques in this space. Moreover, its clean formulation allows for further refinement, such as the secondary optimization of some heuristics for fairness.

    Haewon Jeong, Harvard UniversityTitle: Fairness without Imputation: A Decision Tree Approach for Fair Prediction with Missing Values

    Abstract: We investigate the fairness concerns of training a machine learning model using data with missing values. Even though there are a number of fairness intervention methods in the literature, most of them require a complete training set as input. In practice, data can have missing values, and data missing patterns can depend on group attributes (e.g. gender or race). Simply applying off-the-shelf fair learning algorithms to an imputed dataset may lead to an unfair model. In this paper, we first theoretically analyze different sources of discrimination risks when training with an imputed dataset. Then, we propose an integrated approach based on decision trees that does not require a separate process of imputation and learning. Instead, we train a tree with missing incorporated as attribute (MIA), which does not require explicit imputation, and we optimize a fairness-regularized objective function. We demonstrate that our approach outperforms existing fairness intervention methods applied to an imputed dataset, through several experiments on real-world datasets.

    Emily Diana, University of PennsylvaniaTitle: Multiaccurate Proxies for Downstream Fairness

    Abstract: We study the problem of training a model that must obey demographic fairness conditions when the sensitive features are not available at training time — in other words, how can we train a model to be fair by race when we don’t have data about race? We adopt a fairness pipeline perspective, in which an “upstream” learner that does have access to the sensitive features will learn a proxy model for these features from the other attributes. The goal of the proxy is to allow a general “downstream” learner — with minimal assumptions on their prediction task — to be able to use the proxy to train a model that is fair with respect to the true sensitive features. We show that obeying multiaccuracy constraints with respect to the downstream model class suffices for this purpose, provide sample- and oracle efficient-algorithms and generalization bounds for learning such proxies, and conduct an experimental evaluation. In general, multiaccuracy is much easier to satisfy than classification accuracy, and can be satisfied even when the sensitive features are hard to predict.

    12:15 pm–1:45 pmLunch Break
    1:45–3:15 pmPaper Session 2Session Chair: Guy Rothblum
    Elbert Du, Harvard UniversityTitle: Improved Generalization Guarantees in Restricted Data Models

    Abstract: Differential privacy is known to protect against threats to validity incurred due to adaptive, or exploratory, data analysis — even when the analyst adversarially searches for a statistical estimate that diverges from the true value of the quantity of interest on the underlying population. The cost of this protection is the accuracy loss incurred by differential privacy. In this work, inspired by standard models in the genomics literature, we consider data models in which individuals are represented by a sequence of attributes with the property that where distant attributes are only weakly correlated. We show that, under this assumption, it is possible to “re-use” privacy budget on different portions of the data, significantly improving accuracy without increasing the risk of overfitting.

    Ruth Urner, York UniversityTitle: Robustness Should not be at Odds with Accuracy

    Abstract: The phenomenon of adversarial examples in deep learning models has caused substantial concern over their reliability and trustworthiness: in many instances an imperceptible perturbation can falsely flip a neural network’s prediction. Applied research in this area has mostly focused on developing novel adversarial attack strategies or building better defenses against such. It has repeatedly been pointed out that adversarial robustness may be in conflict with requirements for high accuracy. In this work, we take a more principled look at modeling the phenomenon of adversarial examples. We argue that deciding whether a model’s label change under a small perturbation is justified, should be done in compliance with the underlying data-generating process. Through a series of formal constructions, systematically analyzing the the relation between standard Bayes classifiers and robust-Bayes classifiers, we make the case for adversarial robustness as a locally adaptive measure. We propose a novel way defining such a locally adaptive robust loss, show that it has a natural empirical counterpart, and develop resulting algorithmic guidance in form of data-informed adaptive robustness radius. We prove that our adaptive robust data-augmentation maintains consistency of 1-nearest neighbor classification under deterministic labels and thereby argue that robustness should not be at odds with accuracy.

    Sushant Agarwal, University of WaterlooTitle: Towards the Unification and Robustness of Perturbation and Gradient Based Explanations

    Abstract: As machine learning black boxes are increasingly being deployed in critical domains such as healthcare and criminal justice, there has been a growing emphasis on developing techniques for explaining these black boxes in a post hoc manner. In this work, we analyze two popular post hoc interpretation techniques: SmoothGrad which is a gradient based method, and a variant of LIME which is a perturbation based method. More specifically, we derive explicit closed form expressions for the explanations output by these two methods and show that they both converge to the same explanation in expectation, i.e., when the number of perturbed samples used by these methods is large. We then leverage this connection to establish other desirable properties, such as robustness and linearity, for these techniques. We also derive finite sample complexity bounds for the number of perturbations required for these methods to converge to their expected explanation. Finally, we empirically validate our theory using extensive experimentation on both synthetic and real world datasets.

    Tijana Zrnic, University of California, BerkeleyTitle: Regret Minimization with Performative Feedback

    Abstract: In performative prediction, the deployment of a predictive model triggers a shift in the data distribution. As these shifts are typically unknown ahead of time, the learner needs to deploy a model to get feedback about the distribution it induces. We study the problem of finding near-optimal models under performativity while maintaining low regret. On the surface, this problem might seem equivalent to a bandit problem. However, it exhibits a fundamentally richer feedback structure that we refer to as performative feedback: after every deployment, the learner receives samples from the shifted distribution rather than only bandit feedback about the reward. Our main contribution is regret bounds that scale only with the complexity of the distribution shifts and not that of the reward function. The key algorithmic idea is careful exploration of the distribution shifts that informs a novel construction of confidence bounds on the risk of unexplored models. The construction only relies on smoothness of the shifts and does not assume convexity. More broadly, our work establishes a conceptual approach for leveraging tools from the bandits literature for the purpose of regret minimization with performative feedback.

    3:15 pm–3:45 pmCoffee Break
    3:45 pm–5:00 pmPanel DiscussionTitle: What is Responsible Computing?

    Panelists: Jiahao Chen, Cynthia Dwork, Kobbi Nissim, Ruth Urner

    Moderator: Elisa Celis


    June 7, 2022

    9:15 am–10:15 amKeynote Speaker: Isaac Kohane, Harvard Medical SchoolTitle: What’s in a label? The case for and against monolithic group/ethnic/race labeling for machine learning

    Abstract: Populations and group labels have been used and abused for thousands of years. The scale at which AI can incorporate such labels into its models and the ways in which such models can be misused are cause for significant concern. I will describe, with examples drawn from experiments in precision medicine, the task dependence of how underserved and oppressed populations can be both harmed and helped by the use of group labels. The source of the labels and the utility models underlying their use will be particularly emphasized.

    10:15 am–10:45 amCoffee Break
    10:45 am–12:15 pmPaper Session 3Session Chair: Ruth Urner
    Rojin Rezvan, University of Texas at AustinTitle: Individually-Fair Auctions for Multi-Slot Sponsored Search

    Abstract: We design fair-sponsored search auctions that achieve a near-optimal tradeoff between fairness and quality. Our work builds upon the model and auction design of Chawla and Jagadeesan, who considered the special case of a single slot. We consider sponsored search settings with multiple slots and the standard model of click-through rates that are multiplicatively separable into an advertiser-specific component and a slot-specific component. When similar users have similar advertiser-specific click-through rates, our auctions achieve the same near-optimal tradeoff between fairness and quality. When similar users can have different advertiser-specific preferences, we show that a preference-based fairness guarantee holds. Finally, we provide a computationally efficient algorithm for computing payments for our auctions as well as those in previous work, resolving another open direction from Chawla and Jagadeesan.

    Judy Hanwen Shen, StanfordTitle: Leximax Approximations and Representative Cohort Selection

    Abstract: Finding a representative cohort from a broad pool of candidates is a goal that arises in many contexts such as choosing governing committees and consumer panels. While there are many ways to define the degree to which a cohort represents a population, a very appealing solution concept is lexicographic maximality (leximax) which offers a natural (pareto-optimal like) interpretation that the utility of no population can be increased without decreasing the utility of a population that is already worse off. However, finding a leximax solution can be highly dependent on small variations in the utility of certain groups. In this work, we explore new notions of approximate leximax solutions with three distinct motivations: better algorithmic efficiency, exploiting significant utility improvements, and robustness to noise. Among other definitional contributions, we give a new notion of an approximate leximax that satisfies a similarly appealing semantic interpretation and relate it to algorithmically-feasible approximate leximax notions. When group utilities are linear over cohort candidates, we give an efficient polynomial-time algorithm for finding a leximax distribution over cohort candidates in the exact as well as in the approximate setting. Furthermore, we show that finding an integer solution to leximax cohort selection with linear utilities is NP-Hard.

    Jiayuan Ye,
    National University of Singapore
    Title: Differentially Private Learning Needs Hidden State (or Much Faster Convergence)

    Abstract: Differential privacy analysis of randomized learning algorithms typically relies on composition theorems, where the implicit assumption is that the internal state of the iterative algorithm is revealed to the adversary. However, by assuming hidden states for DP algorithms (when only the last-iterate is observable), recent works prove a converging privacy bound for noisy gradient descent (on strongly convex smooth loss function) that is significantly smaller than composition bounds after a few epochs. In this talk, we extend this hidden-state analysis to various stochastic minibatch gradient descent schemes (such as under “shuffle and partition” and “sample without replacement”), by deriving novel bounds for the privacy amplification by random post-processing and subsampling. We prove that, in these settings, our privacy bound is much smaller than composition for training with a large number of iterations (which is the case for learning from high-dimensional data). Our converging privacy analysis, thus, shows that differentially private learning, with a tight bound, needs hidden state privacy analysis or a fast convergence. To complement our theoretical results, we present experiments for training classification models on MNIST, FMNIST and CIFAR-10 datasets, and observe a better accuracy given fixed privacy budgets, under the hidden-state analysis.

    Mahbod Majid, University of WaterlooTitle: Efficient Mean Estimation with Pure Differential Privacy via a Sum-of-Squares Exponential Mechanism

    Abstract: We give the first polynomial-time algorithm to estimate the mean of a d-variate probability distribution from O(d) independent samples (up to logarithmic factors) subject to pure differential privacy.

    Our main technique is a new approach to use the powerful Sum of Squares method (SoS) to design differentially private algorithms. SoS proofs to algorithms is a key theme in numerous recent works in high-dimensional algorithmic statistics – estimators which apparently require exponential running time but whose analysis can be captured by low-degree Sum of Squares proofs can be automatically turned into polynomial-time algorithms with the same provable guarantees. We demonstrate a similar proofs to private algorithms phenomenon: instances of the workhorse exponential mechanism which apparently require exponential time but which can be analyzed with low-degree SoS proofs can be automatically turned into polynomial-time differentially private algorithms. We prove a meta-theorem capturing this phenomenon, which we expect to be of broad use in private algorithm design.

    12:15 pm–1:45 pmLunch Break
    1:45–3:15 pmPaper Session 4Session Chair: Kunal Talwar
    Kunal Talwar,
    Title: Differential Secrecy for Distributed Data and Applications to Robust Differentially Secure Vector Summation

    Abstract: Computing the noisy sum of real-valued vectors is an important primitive in differentially private learning and statistics. In private federated learning applications, these vectors are held by client devices, leading to a distributed summation problem. Standard Secure Multiparty Computation (SMC) protocols for this problem are susceptible to poisoning attacks, where a client may have a large influence on the sum, without being detected.
    In this work, we propose a poisoning-robust private summation protocol in the multiple-server setting, recently studied in PRIO. We present a protocol for vector summation that verifies that the Euclidean norm of each contribution is approximately bounded. We show that by relaxing the security constraint in SMC to a differential privacy like guarantee, one can improve over PRIO in terms of communication requirements as well as the client-side computation. Unlike SMC algorithms that inevitably cast integers to elements of a large finite field, our algorithms work over integers/reals, which may allow for additional efficiencies.

    Giuseppe Vietri, University of MinnesotaTitle: Improved Regret for Differentially Private Exploration in Linear MDP

    Abstract: We study privacy-preserving exploration in sequential decision-making for environments that rely on sensitive data such as medical records. In particular, we focus on solving the problem of reinforcement learning (RL) subject to the constraint of (joint) differential privacy in the linear MDP setting, where both dynamics and rewards are given by linear functions. Prior work on this problem due to Luyo et al. (2021) achieves a regret rate that has a dependence of O(K^{3/5}) on the number of episodes K. We provide a private algorithm with an improved regret rate with an optimal dependence of O(K^{1/2}) on the number of episodes. The key recipe for our stronger regret guarantee is the adaptivity in the policy update schedule, in which an update only occurs when sufficient changes in the data are detected. As a result, our algorithm benefits from low switching cost and only performs O(log(K)) updates, which greatly reduces the amount of privacy noise. Finally, in the most prevalent privacy regimes where the privacy parameter ? is a constant, our algorithm incurs negligible privacy cost — in comparison with the existing non-private regret bounds, the additional regret due to privacy appears in lower-order terms.

    Mingxun Zhou,
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Title: The Power of the Differentially Oblivious Shuffle in Distributed Privacy MechanismsAbstract: The shuffle model has been extensively investigated in the distributed differential privacy (DP) literature. For a class of useful computational tasks, the shuffle model allows us to achieve privacy-utility tradeoff similar to those in the central model, while shifting the trust from a central data curator to a “trusted shuffle” which can be implemented through either trusted hardware or cryptography. Very recently, several works explored cryptographic instantiations of a new type of shuffle with relaxed security, called differentially oblivious (DO) shuffles. These works demonstrate that by relaxing the shuffler’s security from simulation-style secrecy to differential privacy, we can achieve asymptotical efficiency improvements. A natural question arises, can we replace the shuffler in distributed DP mechanisms with a DO-shuffle while retaining a similar privacy-utility tradeoff?
    In this paper, we prove an optimal privacy amplification theorem by composing any locally differentially private (LDP) mechanism with a DO-shuffler, achieving parameters that tightly match the shuffle model. Moreover, we explore multi-message protocols in the DO-shuffle model, and construct mechanisms for the real summation and histograph problems. Our error bounds approximate the best known results in the multi-message shuffle-model up to sub-logarithmic factors. Our results also suggest that just like in the shuffle model, allowing each client to send multiple messages is fundamentally more powerful than restricting to a single message.
    Badih Ghazi,
    Google Research
    Title: Differentially Private Ad Conversion Measurement

    Abstract: In this work, we study conversion measurement, a central functionality in the digital advertising space, where an advertiser seeks to estimate advertiser site conversions attributed to ad impressions that users have interacted with on various publisher sites. We consider differential privacy (DP), a notion that has gained in popularity due to its strong and rigorous guarantees, and suggest a formal framework for DP conversion measurement, uncovering a subtle interplay between attribution and privacy. We define the notion of an operationally valid configuration of the attribution logic, DP adjacency relation, privacy
    budget scope and enforcement point, and provide, for a natural space of configurations, a complete characterization.

    3:15 pm–3:45 pmCoffee Break
    3:45 pm–5:00 pmOpen Poster Session


    June 8, 2022

    9:15 am–10:15 amKeynote Speaker: Nuria Oliver, Data-Pop AllianceTitle: Data Science against COVID-19

    Abstract: In my talk, I will describe the work that I have been doing since March 2020, leading a multi-disciplinary team of 20+ volunteer scientists working very closely with the Presidency of the Valencian Government in Spain on 4 large areas: (1) human mobility modeling; (2) computational epidemiological models (both metapopulation, individual and LSTM-based models); (3) predictive models; and (4) citizen surveys via the COVID19impactsurvey with over 600,000 answers worldwide.

    I will describe the results that we have produced in each of these areas, including winning the 500K XPRIZE Pandemic Response Challenge and best paper award at ECML-PKDD 2021. I will share the lessons learned in this very special initiative of collaboration between the civil society at large (through the survey), the scientific community (through the Expert Group) and a public administration (through the Commissioner at the Presidency level). WIRED magazine just published an article describing our story.

    10:15 am–10:45 amCoffee Break
    10:45 am–12:15 pmPaper Session 5Session Chair: Kunal Talwar
    Shengyuan Hu, Carnegie Mellon UniversityTitle: Private Multi-Task Learning: Formulation and Applications to Federated Learning

    Abstract: Many problems in machine learning rely on multi-task learning (MTL), in which the goal is to solve multiple related machine learning tasks simultaneously. MTL is particularly relevant for privacy-sensitive applications in areas such as healthcare, finance, and IoT computing, where sensitive data from multiple, varied sources are shared for the purpose of learning. In this work, we formalize notions of task-level privacy for MTL via joint differential privacy (JDP), a relaxation of differential privacy for mechanism design and distributed optimization. We then propose an algorithm for mean-regularized MTL, an objective commonly used for applications in personalized federated learning, subject to JDP. We analyze our objective and solver, providing certifiable guarantees on both privacy and utility. Empirically, our method allows for improved privacy/utility trade-offs relative to global baselines across common federated learning benchmarks

    Christina Yu,
    Cornell University
    Title: Sequential Fair Allocation: Achieving the Optimal Envy-Efficiency Tradeoff Curve

    Abstract: We consider the problem of dividing limited resources to individuals arriving over T rounds with a goal of achieving fairness across individuals. In general there may be multiple resources and multiple types of individuals with different utilities. A standard definition of `fairness’ requires an allocation to simultaneously satisfy envy-freeness and Pareto efficiency. However, in the online sequential setting, the social planner must decide on a current allocation before the downstream demand is realized, such that no policy can guarantee these desiderata simultaneously with probability 1, requiring a modified metric of measuring fairness for online policies. We show that in the online setting, the two desired properties (envy-freeness and efficiency) are in direct contention, in that any algorithm achieving additive counterfactual envy-freeness up to L_T necessarily suffers an efficiency loss of at least 1 / L_T. We complement this uncertainty principle with a simple algorithm, HopeGuardrail, which allocates resources based on an adaptive threshold policy and is able to achieve any fairness-efficiency point on this frontier. Our result is the first to provide guarantees for fair online resource allocation with high probability for multiple resource and multiple type settings. In simulation results, our algorithm provides allocations close to the optimal fair solution in hindsight, motivating its use in practical applications as the algorithm is able to adapt to any desired fairness efficiency trade-off.

    Hedyeh Beyhaghi, Carnegie Mellon UniversityTitle: On classification of strategic agents who can both game and improve

    Abstract: In this work, we consider classification of agents who can both game and improve. For example, people wishing to get a loan may be able to take some actions that increase their perceived credit-worthiness and others that also increase their true credit-worthiness. A decision-maker would like to define a classification rule with few false-positives (does not give out many bad loans) while yielding many true positives (giving out many good loans), which includes encouraging agents to improve to become true positives if possible. We consider two models for this problem, a general discrete model and a linear model, and prove algorithmic, learning, and hardness results for each. For the general discrete model, we give an efficient algorithm for the problem of maximizing the number of true positives subject to no false positives, and show how to extend this to a partial-information learning setting. We also show hardness for the problem of maximizing the number of true positives subject to a nonzero bound on the number of false positives, and that this hardness holds even for a finite-point version of our linear model. We also show that maximizing the number of true positives subject to no false positive is NP-hard in our full linear model. We additionally provide an algorithm that determines whether there exists a linear classifier that classifies all agents accurately and causes all improvable agents to become qualified, and give additional results for low-dimensional data.

    Keegan Harris, Carnegie Mellon UniversityTitle: Bayesian Persuasion for Algorithmic Recourse

    Abstract: When subjected to automated decision-making, decision subjects may strategically modify their observable features in ways they believe will maximize their chances of receiving a favorable decision. In many practical situations, the underlying assessment rule is deliberately kept secret to avoid gaming and maintain competitive advantage. The resulting opacity forces the decision subjects to rely on incomplete information when making strategic feature modifications. We capture such settings as a game of Bayesian persuasion, in which the decision maker offers a form of recourse to the decision subject by providing them with an action recommendation (or signal) to incentivize them to modify their features in desirable ways. We show that when using persuasion, both the decision maker and decision subject are never worse off in expectation, while the decision maker can be significantly better off. While the decision maker’s problem of finding the optimal Bayesian incentive-compatible (BIC) signaling policy takes the form of optimization over infinitely-many variables, we show that this optimization can be cast as a linear program over finitely-many regions of the space of possible assessment rules. While this reformulation simplifies the problem dramatically, solving the linear program requires reasoning about exponentially-many variables, even under relatively simple settings. Motivated by this observation, we provide a polynomial-time approximation scheme that recovers a near-optimal signaling policy. Finally, our numerical simulations on semi-synthetic data empirically illustrate the benefits of using persuasion in the algorithmic recourse setting.

    12:15 pm–1:45 pmLunch Break
    1:45–3:15 pmPaper Session 6Session Chair: Elisa Celis
    Mark Bun, Boston UniversityTitle: Controlling Privacy Loss in Sampling Schemes: An Analysis of Stratified and Cluster Sampling

    Abstract: Sampling schemes are fundamental tools in statistics, survey design, and algorithm design. A fundamental result in differential privacy is that a differentially private mechanism run on a simple random sample of a population provides stronger privacy guarantees than the same algorithm run on the entire population. However, in practice, sampling designs are often more complex than the simple, data-independent sampling schemes that are addressed in prior work. In this work, we extend the study of privacy amplification results to more complex, data-dependent sampling schemes. We find that not only do these sampling schemes often fail to amplify privacy, they can actually result in privacy degradation. We analyze the privacy implications of the pervasive cluster sampling and stratified sampling paradigms, as well as provide some insight into the study of more general sampling designs.

    Samson Zhou, Carnegie Mellon UniversityTitle: Private Data Stream Analysis for Universal Symmetric Norm Estimation

    Abstract: We study how to release summary statistics on a data stream subject to the constraint of differential privacy. In particular, we focus on releasing the family of symmetric norms, which are invariant under sign-flips and coordinate-wise permutations on an input data stream and include L_p norms, k-support norms, top-k norms, and the box norm as special cases. Although it may be possible to design and analyze a separate mechanism for each symmetric norm, we propose a general parametrizable framework that differentially privately releases a number of sufficient statistics from which the approximation of all symmetric norms can be simultaneously computed. Our framework partitions the coordinates of the underlying frequency vector into different levels based on their magnitude and releases approximate frequencies for the “heavy” coordinates in important levels and releases approximate level sizes for the “light” coordinates in important levels. Surprisingly, our mechanism allows for the release of an arbitrary number of symmetric norm approximations without any overhead or additional loss in privacy. Moreover, our mechanism permits (1+\alpha)-approximation to each of the symmetric norms and can be implemented using sublinear space in the streaming model for many regimes of the accuracy and privacy parameters.

    Aloni Cohen, University of ChicagoTitle: Attacks on Deidentification’s Defenses

    Abstract: Quasi-identifier-based deidentification techniques (QI-deidentification) are widely used in practice, including k-anonymity, ?-diversity, and t-closeness. We present three new attacks on QI-deidentification: two theoretical attacks and one practical attack on a real dataset. In contrast to prior work, our theoretical attacks work even if every attribute is a quasi-identifier. Hence, they apply to k-anonymity, ?-diversity, t-closeness, and most other QI-deidentification techniques.
    First, we introduce a new class of privacy attacks called downcoding attacks, and prove that every QI-deidentification scheme is vulnerable to downcoding attacks if it is minimal and hierarchical. Second, we convert the downcoding attacks into powerful predicate singling-out (PSO) attacks, which were recently proposed as a way to demonstrate that a privacy mechanism fails to legally anonymize under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. Third, we use LinkedIn.com to reidentify 3 students in a k-anonymized dataset published by EdX (and show thousands are potentially vulnerable), undermining EdX’s claimed compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

    The significance of this work is both scientific and political. Our theoretical attacks demonstrate that QI-deidentification may offer no protection even if every attribute is treated as a quasi-identifier. Our practical attack demonstrates that even deidentification experts acting in accordance with strict privacy regulations fail to prevent real-world reidentification. Together, they rebut a foundational tenet of QI-deidentification and challenge the actual arguments made to justify the continued use of k-anonymity and other QI-deidentification techniques.

    Steven Wu,
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Title: Fully Adaptive Composition in Differential Privacy

    Abstract: Composition is a key feature of differential privacy. Well-known advanced composition theorems allow one to query a private database quadratically more times than basic privacy composition would permit. However, these results require that the privacy parameters of all algorithms be fixed before interacting with the data. To address this, Rogers et al. introduced fully adaptive composition, wherein both algorithms and their privacy parameters can be selected adaptively. The authors introduce two probabilistic objects to measure privacy in adaptive composition: privacy filters, which provide differential privacy guarantees for composed interactions, and privacy odometers, time-uniform bounds on privacy loss. There are substantial gaps between advanced composition and existing filters and odometers. First, existing filters place stronger assumptions on the algorithms being composed. Second, these odometers and filters suffer from large constants, making them impractical. We construct filters that match the tightness of advanced composition, including constants, despite allowing for adaptively chosen privacy parameters. We also construct several general families of odometers. These odometers can match the tightness of advanced composition at an arbitrary, preselected point in time, or at all points in time simultaneously, up to a doubly-logarithmic factor. We obtain our results by leveraging recent advances in time-uniform martingale concentration. In sum, we show that fully adaptive privacy is obtainable at almost no loss, and conjecture that our results are essentially not improvable (even in constants) in general.

    3:15 pm–3:45 pmFORC Reception
    3:45 pm–5:00 pmSocial Hour
  • Workshop
    9:00 am-5:00 pm

    On April 27–29, 2022, the CMSA hosted a workshop on Nonlinear Algebra and Combinatorics.

    Organizers: Bernd Sturmfels (MPI Leipzig) and Lauren Williams (Harvard).

    In recent years, ideas from integrable systems and scattering amplitudes have led to advances in nonlinear algebra and combinatorics. In this short workshop, aimed at younger participants in the field, we will explore some of the interactions between the above topics.


    • Federico Ardila (San Francisco State)
    • Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS)
    • Madeline Brandt (Brown)
    • Nick Early (Max Planck Institute)
    • Chris Eur (Harvard)
    • Claudia Fevola (Max Planck Institute)
    • Christian Gaetz (Harvard)
    • Yuji Kodama (Ohio State University)
    • Yelena Mandelshtam (Berkeley)
    • Sebastian Mizera (IAS)
    • Matteo Parisi (Harvard CMSA)
    • Emma Previato (Boston University)
    • Anna Seigal (Harvard)
    • Melissa Sherman-Bennett (University of Michigan)
    • Simon Telen (Max Planck Institute)
    • Charles Wang (Harvard)


    Schedule PDF

    Wednesday, April 27, 2022

    9:30 am–10:30 amFederico ArdilaTitle: Nonlinear spaces from linear spaces

    Abstract: Matroid theory provides a combinatorial model for linearity, but it plays useful roles beyond linearity. In the classical setup, a linear subspace V of an n-dimensional vector space gives rise to a matroid M(V) on {1,…,n}. However, the matroid M(V) also knows about some nonlinear geometric spaces related to V. Conversely, those nonlinear spaces teach us things we didn’t know about matroids. My talk will discuss some examples.

    10:30 am–11:00 amCOFFEE BREAK
    11:00 am–11:45 amChris EurTitle: Tautological classes of matroids

    Abstract: Algebraic geometry has furnished fruitful tools for studying matroids, which are combinatorial abstractions of hyperplane arrangements. We first survey some recent developments, pointing out how these developments remained partially disjoint. We then introduce certain vector bundles (K-classes) on permutohedral varieties, which we call “tautological bundles (classes)” of matroids, as a new framework that unifies, recovers, and extends these recent developments. Our framework leads to new questions that further probe the boundary between combinatorics and geometry. Joint work with Andrew Berget, Hunter Spink, and Dennis Tseng.

    11:45 am–2:00 pmLUNCH BREAK
    2:00 pm–2:45 pmNick EarlyTitle: Biadjoint Scalars and Associahedra from Residues of Generalized Amplitudes

    Abstract: The associahedron is known to encapsulate physical properties such as the notion of tree-level factorization for one of the simplest Quantum Field Theories, the biadjoint scalar, which has only cubic interactions.  I will discuss novel instances of the associahedron and the biadjoint scalar in a class of generalized amplitudes, discovered by Cachazo, Early, Guevara and Mizera, by taking certain limits thereof. This connection leads to a simple proof of a new realization of the associahedron involving a Minkowski sum of certain positroid polytopes in the second hypersimplex.

    2:45 pm–3:30 pmAnna SeigalTitle: Invariant theory for maximum likelihood estimation

    Abstract: I will talk about work to uncover connections between invariant theory and maximum likelihood estimation. I will describe how norm minimization over a torus orbit is equivalent to maximum likelihood estimation in log-linear models. We will see the role played by polytopes and discuss connections to scaling algorithms. Based on joint work with Carlos Améndola, Kathlén Kohn, and Philipp Reichenbach.

    3:30 pm–4:00 pmCOFFEE BREAK
    4:00 pm–4:45 pmMatteo ParisiTitle: Amplituhedra, Scattering Amplitudes, and Triangulations

    Abstract: In this talk I will discuss about Amplituhedra – generalizations of polytopes inside the Grassmannian – introduced by physicists to encode interactions of elementary particles in certain Quantum Field Theories. In particular, I will explain how the problem of finding triangulations of Amplituhedra is connected to computing scattering amplitudes of N=4 super Yang-Mills theory.
    Triangulations of polygons are encoded in the associahedron, studied by Stasheff in the sixties; in the case of polytopes, triangulations are captured by secondary polytopes, constructed by Gelfand et al. in the nineties. Whereas a “secondary” geometry describing triangulations of Amplituhedra is still not known, and we pave the way for such studies. I will discuss how the combinatorics of triangulations interplays with T-duality from String Theory, in connection with the Momentum Amplituhedron. A generalization of T-duality led us to discover a striking duality between Amplituhedra of “m=2” type and a seemingly unrelated object – the Hypersimplex. The latter is a polytope which appears in many contexts, from matroid theory to tropical geometry.
    Based on joint works with Lauren Williams, Melissa Sherman-Bennett, Tomasz Lukowski.

    4:45 pm–5:30 pmMelissa Sherman-BennettTitle: The hypersimplex and the m=2 amplituhedron

    Abstract: In this talk, I’ll continue where Matteo left off. I’ll give some more details about the curious correspondence between the m=2 amplituhedron, a 2k-dimensional subset of Gr(k, k+2), and the hypersimplex, an (n-1)-dimensional polytope in R^n. The amplituhedron and hypersimplex are both images of the totally nonnegative Grassmannian under some map (the amplituhedron map and the moment map, respectively), but are different dimensions and live in very different ambient spaces. I’ll talk about joint work with Matteo Parisi and Lauren Williams in which we give a bijection between decompositions of the amplituhedron and decompositions of the hypersimplex (originally conjectured by Lukowski–Parisi–Williams). The hypersimplex decompositions are closely related to matroidal subdivisions. Along the way, we prove a nice description of the m=2 amplituhedron conjectured by Arkani-Hamed–Thomas–Trnka and give a new decomposition of the m=2 amplituhedron into Eulerian-number-many chambers, inspired by an analogous triangulation of the hypersimplex into Eulerian-number-many simplices.


    Thursday, April 28, 2022

    9:30 am–10:30 amClaudia FevolaTitle: Nonlinear Algebra meets Feynman integrals

    Abstract: Feynman integrals play a central role in particle physics in the theory of scattering amplitudes. They form a finite-dimensional vector space and the elements of a basis are named “master integrals” in the physics literature. The number of master integrals has been interpreted in different ways: it equals the dimension of a twisted de Rham cohomology group, the Euler characteristic of a very affine variety, and the holonomic rank of a D-module. In this talk, we are interested in a more general family of integrals that contains Feynman integrals as a special case. We explore this setting using tools coming from nonlinear algebra. This is an ongoing project with Daniele Agostini, Anna-Laura Sattelberger, and Simon Telen.

    10:30 am–11:00 amCOFFEE BREAK
    11:00 am–11:45 amSimon TelenTitle: Landau discriminants

    Abstract: The Landau discriminant is a projective variety containing kinematic parameters for which a Feynman integral can have singularities. We present a definition and geometric properties. We discuss how to compute Landau discriminants using symbolic and numerical methods. Our methods can be used, for instance, to compute the Landau discriminant of the pentabox diagram, which is a degree 12 hypersurface in 6-space. This is joint work with Sebastian Mizera.

    11:45 am–2:00 pmLUNCH BREAK
    2:00 pm–2:45 pmChristian GaetzTitle: 1-skeleton posets of Bruhat interval polytopes

    Abstract: Bruhat interval polytopes are a well-studied class of generalized permutohedra which arise as moment map images of various toric varieties and totally positive spaces in the flag variety. I will describe work in progress in which I study the 1-skeleta of these polytopes, viewed as posets interpolating between weak order and Bruhat order. In many cases these posets are lattices and the polytopes, despite not being simple, have interesting h-vectors. In a special case, work of Williams shows that Bruhat interval polytopes are isomorphic to bridge polytopes, so that chains in the 1-skeleton poset correspond to BCFW-bridge decompositions of plabic graphs.

    2:45 pm–3:30 pmMadeleine BrandtTitle: Top Weight Cohomology of $A_g$

    Abstract: I will discuss a recent project in computing the top weight cohomology of the moduli space $A_g$ of principally polarized abelian varieties of dimension $g$ for small values of $g$. This piece of the cohomology is controlled by the combinatorics of the boundary strata of a compactification of $A_g$. Thus, it can be computed combinatorially. This is joint work with Juliette Bruce, Melody Chan, Margarida Melo, Gwyneth Moreland, and Corey Wolfe.

    3:30 pm–4:00 pmCOFFEE BREAK
    4:00 pm–5:00 pmEmma PreviatoTitle: Sigma function on curves with non-symmetric semigroup

    Abstract: We start with an overview of the correspondence between spectral curves and commutative rings of differential operators, integrable hierarchies of non-linear PDEs and Jacobian vector fields. The coefficients of the operators can be written explicitly in terms of the Kleinian sigma function: Weierstrass’ sigma function was generalized to genus greater than one by Klein, and is a ubiquitous tool in integrability. The most accessible case is the sigma function of telescopic curves. In joint work with J. Komeda and S. Matsutani, we construct a curve with non-symmetric Weierstrass semigroup (equivalently, Young tableau), consequently non-telescopic, and its sigma function. We conclude with possible applications to commutative rings of differential operators.

    6:00 pmDinner Banquet, Gran Gusto Trattoria


    Friday, April 29, 2022

    9:00 am–10:00 amYuji KodamaTitle: KP solitons and algebraic curves

    Abstract: It is well-known that soliton solutions of the KdV hierarchy are obtained by singular limits of hyper-elliptic curves. However, there is no general results for soliton solutions of the KP hierarchy, KP solitons. In this talk, I will show that some of the KP solitons are related to the singular space curves associated with certain class of numerical semigroups.

    10:00 am–10:30 amCOFFEE BREAK
    10:30 am–11:15 amYelena MandelshtamTitle: Curves, degenerations, and Hirota varieties

    Abstract: The Kadomtsev-Petviashvili (KP) equation is a differential equation whose study yields interesting connections between integrable systems and algebraic geometry. In this talk I will discuss solutions to the KP equation whose underlying algebraic curves undergo tropical degenerations. In these cases, Riemann’s theta function becomes a finite exponential sum that is supported on a Delaunay polytope. I will introduce the Hirota variety which parametrizes all KP solutions arising from such a sum. I will then discuss a special case, studying the Hirota variety of a rational nodal curve. Of particular interest is an irreducible subvariety that is the image of a parameterization map. Proving that this is a component of the Hirota variety entails solving a weak Schottky problem for rational nodal curves. This talk is based on joint work with Daniele Agostini, Claudia Fevola, and Bernd Sturmfels.

    11:15 am–12:00 pmCharles WangTitle: Differential Algebra of Commuting Operators

    Abstract: In this talk, we will give an overview of the problem of finding the centralizer of a fixed differential operator in a ring of differential operators, along with connections to integrable hierarchies and soliton solutions to e.g. the KdV or KP equations. Given these interesting connections, it is important to be able to compute centralizers of differential operators, and we discuss how to use techniques from differential algebra to approach this question, as well as how having these computational tools can help in understanding the structure of soliton solutions to these equations.

    12:00 pm–2:00 pmLUNCH BREAK
    2:00 pm–3:00 pmSebastian MizeraTitle: Feynman Polytopes

    Abstract: I will give an introduction to a class of polytopes that recently emerged in the study of scattering amplitudes in quantum field theory.

    3:00 pm–3:30 pmCOFFEE BREAK
    3:30 pm–4:30 pmNima Arkani-HamedTitle: Spacetime, Quantum Mechanics and Combinatorial Geometries at Infinity

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    6/3/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    7/8/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Topological Quantum Matter Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Topological Seminar 11.2.22

    Topological Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Junyeong Ahn (Harvard)

    Title: Optical axion electrodynamics

    Abstract: Electromagnetic fields in a magneto-electric medium behave in close analogy to photons coupled to the hypothetical elementary particle, the axion. This emergent axion electrodynamics is expected to provide novel ways to detect and control material properties with electromagnetic fields. Despite having been studied intensively for over a decade, its theoretical understanding remains mostly confined to the static limit. Formulating axion electrodynamics at general optical frequencies requires resolving the difficulty of calculating optical magneto-electric coupling in periodic systems and demands a proper generalization of the axion field. In this talk, I will introduce a theory of optical axion electrodynamics that allows for a simple quantitative analysis. Then, I will move on to discuss the issue of the Kerr effect in axion antiferromagnets, refuting the conventional wisdom that the Kerr effect is a measure of the net magnetic moment. Finally, I will apply our theory to a topological antiferromagnet MnBi2Te4.

    [1] Theory of Optical Axion Electrodynamics, J. Ahn, S.Y. Xu, A.Vishwanath, arXiv:2205.06843

  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-4:00 pm
  • Program
    9:00 am-5:00 pm

    Please visit the Swampland Initiative for current events.

    The Harvard Swampland Initiative is an immersive program aiming to bring together leading experts with the goal of exploring the boundaries of the quantum gravity landscape. Through workshops, seminars, and collaborative research, participants collectively navigate the Swampland, advancing our comprehension of the fundamental principles of quantum gravity.


    During the 2021-2022 academic year, the CMSA hosted a program on the so-called “Swampland.”

    The Swampland program aims to determine which low-energy effective field theories are consistent with nonperturbative quantum gravity considerations. Not everything is possible in String Theory, and finding out what is and what is not strongly constrains the low energy physics. These constraints are naturally interesting for particle physics and cosmology,  which has led to a great deal of activity in the field in the last few years.

    The Swampland is intrinsically interdisciplinary, with ramifications in string compactifications, holography, black hole physics, cosmology, particle physics, and even mathematics.

    This program will include an extensive group of visitors and a slate of seminars. Additionally, the CMSA will host a school oriented toward graduate students.


    Swampland Seminar Series & Group Meetings

    Program Visitors

    • Pieter Bomans, Princeton, 10/30/21 – 11/02/21
    • Irene Valenzuela, Instituto de Física Teórica, 02/14/22 – 02/21/22
    • Mariana Grana, CEA/Saclay, 03/21/22 – 03/25/22
    • Hector Parra De Freitas, IPHT Saclay, 03/21/22 – 04/01/22
    • Timo Weigand, 03/21/22 – 03/28/22
    • Gary Shiu, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 04/03/22 – 04/10/22
    • Thomas van Riet, Leuven University, 04/03/22 – 04/09/22
    • Lars Aalsma, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 04/11/22 – 04/15/22
    • Sergio Cecotti, 05/08/22 – 05/21/22
    • Tom Rudelius, 05/09/22 – 05/13/22


  • Workshop
    9:00 am-6:00 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    The CMSA will be hosting a Workshop on Global Categorical Symmetries from May 7 – 12, 2023

    Participation in the workshop is by invitation.

    Public Lectures

    There will be three lectures on Thursday, May 11, 2023, which are open to the public.
    Location:  Room G-10, CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138
    Note: The public lectures will be held in-person only.

    2:00 – 2:50 pm
    Speaker: Kantaro Ohmori (U Tokyo )
    Title: Fusion Surface Models: 2+1d Lattice Models from Higher Categories
    Abstract: Generalized symmetry in general dimensions is expected to be described by higher categories. Conversely, one might expect that, given a higher category with appropriate structures, there exist models that admit the category as its symmetry. In this talk I will explain a construction of such 2+1d lattice models for fusion 2-categories defined by Douglas and Reutter, generalizing the work of Aasen, Fendley and Mong on anyon chains. The construction is by decorating a boundary of a topological Freed-Teleman-Moore sandwich into a non-topological boundary. In particular we can construct a family of candidate lattice systems for chiral topological orders.


    3:00 – 3:50 pm
    Speaker: David Jordan (Edinburgh)
    Title: Langlands duality for 3-manifolds
    Abstract: Originating in number theory, and permeating representation theory, algebraic geometry, and quantum field theory, Langlands duality is a pattern of predictions relating pairs of mathematical objects which have no clear a priori mathematical relation. In this talk I’ll explain a new conjectural appearance of Langlands duality in the setting of 3-manifold topology, I’ll give some evidence in the form of special cases, and I’ll survey how the conjecture relates to both the arithmetic and geometric Langlands duality conjectures.

    3:50 – 4:30 pm
    Tea/Snack Break

    4:30 – 5:30 pm
    Speaker: Ken Intriligator (UCSD)
    Title: QFT Aspects of Symmetry
    Abstract: Everything in the Universe, including the photons that we see and the quarks and electrons in our bodies, are actually ripples of quantum fields. Quantum field theory (QFT) is the underlying mathematical framework of Nature, and in the case of electrons and photons it is the most precisely tested theory in science. Strongly coupled aspects, e.g. the confinement of quarks and gluons at long distances, remain challenging. QFT also describes condensed matter systems, connects to string theory and quantum gravity, and describes cosmology. Symmetry has deep and powerful realizations and implications throughout physics, and this is especially so for the study of QFT. Symmetries play a helpful role in characterizing the phases of theories and their behavior under renormalization group flows (zooming out). Quantum field theory has also been an idea generating machine for mathematics, and there has been increasingly fruitful synergy in both directions. We are currently exploring the symmetry-based interconnections between QFT and mathematics in our Simons Collaboration on Global Categorical Symmetry, which is meeting here this week. I will try to provide an accessible, colloquium-level introduction to aspects of symmetries and QFT, both old and new.

  • Colloquium

    Colloquium Colloquia & Seminar
    Combinatorics, Physics and Probability Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am

    During the 2021–22 academic year, the CMSA will be hosting a seminar on Combinatorics, Physics and Probability, organized by Matteo Parisi and Michael Simkin. This seminar will take place on Tuesdays at 9:00 am – 10:00 am (Boston time). The meetings will take place virtually on Zoom. To learn how to attend, please fill out this form, or contact the organizers Matteo (mparisi@cmsa.fas.harvard.edu) and Michael (msimkin@cmsa.fas.harvard.edu).

    The schedule below will be updated as talks are confirmed.

    Spring 2022

    *note special time 9:00–10:00 AM ET
    Jacob Bourjaily (Penn State University, Eberly College of ScienceTitle: Adventures in Perturbation Theory

    Abstract: Recent years have seen tremendous advances in our understanding of perturbative quantum field theory—fueled largely by discoveries (and eventual explanations and exploitation) of shocking simplicity in the mathematical form of the predictions made for experiment. Among the most important frontiers in this progress is the understanding of loop amplitudes—their mathematical form, underlying geometric structure, and how best to manifest the physical properties of finite observables in general quantum field theories. This work is motivated in part by the desire to simplify the difficult work of doing Feynman integrals. I review some of the examples of this progress, and describe some ongoing efforts to recast perturbation theory in terms that expose as much simplicity (and as much physics) as possible.

    2/3/2022Ran Tessler
    (Weizmann Institute of Science)
    Title: The Amplituhedron BCFW Triangulation

    Abstract:  The (tree) amplituhedron was introduced in 2013 by Arkani-Hamed and Trnka in their study of N=4 SYM scattering amplitudes. A central conjecture in the field was to prove that the m=4 amplituhedron is triangulated by the images of certain positroid cells, called the BCFW cells. In this talk I will describe a resolution of this conjecture. The seminar is based on a recent joint work with Chaim Even-Zohar and Tsviqa Lakrec.

    2/8/2022Anna Seigal (Harvard)Title: Invariant theory for maximum likelihood estimation

    Abstract:  I will talk about work to uncover connections between invariant theory and maximum likelihood estimation. I will describe how norm minimization over a torus orbit is equivalent to maximum likelihood estimation in log-linear models. We will see the role played by polytopes and discuss connections to scaling algorithms. Based on joint work with Carlos Améndola, Kathlén Kohn, and Philipp Reichenbach.

    2/15/2022Igor Balla, Hebrew University of JerusalemTitle: Equiangular lines and regular graphs

    Abstract: In 1973, Lemmens and Seidel asked to determine N_alpha(r), the maximum number of equiangular lines in R^r with common angle arccos(alpha). Recently, this problem has been almost completely settled when r is exponentially large relative to 1/alpha, with the approach both relying on Ramsey’s theorem, as well as being limited by it. In this talk, we will show how orthogonal projections of matrices with respect to the Frobenius inner product can be used to overcome this limitation, thereby obtaining significantly improved upper bounds on N_alpha(r) when r is polynomial in 1/alpha. In particular, our results imply that N_alpha(r) = Theta(r) for alpha >= Omega(1 / r^1/5).

    Our projection method generalizes to complex equiangular lines in C^r, which may be of independent interest in quantum theory. Applying this method also allows us to obtain
    the first universal bound on the maximum number of complex equiangular lines in C^r with common Hermitian angle arccos(alpha), an extension of the Alon-Boppana theorem to dense regular graphs, which is tight for strongly regular graphs corresponding to r(r+1)/2 equiangular lines in R^r, an improvement to Welch’s bound in coding theory.

    Fall 2021

    9/21/2021Nima Arkani-Hamed
    IAS (Institute for Advanced Study), School of Natural Sciences
    Title: Surfacehedra and the Binary Positive Geometry of Particle and “String” Amplitudes
    9/28/2021Melissa Sherman-Bennett
    University of Michigan, Department of Mathematics
    Title: The hypersimplex and the m=2 amplituhedron

    Abstract: I’ll discuss a curious correspondence between the m=2 amplituhedron, a 2k-dimensional subset of Gr(k, k+2), and the hypersimplex, an (n-1)-dimensional polytope in R^n. The amplituhedron and hypersimplex are both images of the totally nonnegative Grassmannian under some map (the amplituhedron map and the moment map, respectively), but are different dimensions and live in very different ambient spaces. I’ll talk about joint work with Matteo Parisi and Lauren Williams in which we give a bijection between decompositions of the amplituhedron and decompositions of the hypersimplex (originally conjectured by Lukowski–Parisi–Williams). Along the way, we prove the sign-flip description of the m=2 amplituhedron conjectured by Arkani-Hamed–Thomas–Trnka and give a new decomposition of the m=2 amplituhedron into Eulerian-number-many chambers (inspired by an analogous hypersimplex decomposition).

    10/5/2021Daniel Cizma, Hebrew UniversityTitle: Geodesic Geometry on Graphs

    Abstract: In a graph G = (V, E) we consider a system of paths S so that for every two vertices u,v in V there is a unique uv path in S connecting them. The path system is said to be consistent if it is closed under taking subpaths, i.e. if P is a path in S then any subpath of P is also in S. Every positive weight function w: E–>R^+ gives rise to a consistent path system in G by taking the paths in S to be geodesics w.r.t. w. In this case, we say w induces S. We say a graph G is metrizable if every consistent path system in G is induced by some such w.

    We’ll discuss the concept of graph metrizability, and, in particular, we’ll see that while metrizability is a rare property, there exists infinitely many 2-connected metrizable graphs.

    Joint work with Nati Linial.

    10/12/2021Lisa Sauermann, MITTitle: On counting algebraically defined graphs

    Abstract: For many classes of graphs that arise naturally in discrete geometry (for example intersection graphs of segments or disks in the plane), the edges of these graphs can be defined algebraically using the signs of a finite list of fixed polynomials. We investigate the number of n-vertex graphs in such an algebraically defined class of graphs. Warren’s theorem (a variant of a theorem of Milnor and Thom) implies upper bounds for the number of n-vertex graphs in such graph classes, but all the previously known lower bounds were obtained from ad hoc constructions for very specific classes. We prove a general theorem giving a lower bound for this number (under some reasonable assumptions on the fixed list of polynomials), and this lower bound essentially matches the upper bound from Warren’s theorem.

    10/19/2021Pavel Galashin
    UCLA, Department of Mathematics
    Title: Ising model, total positivity, and criticality

    Abstract: The Ising model, introduced in 1920, is one of the most well-studied models in statistical mechanics. It is known to undergo a phase transition at critical temperature, and has attracted considerable interest over the last two decades due to special properties of its scaling limit at criticality.
    The totally nonnegative Grassmannian is a subset of the real Grassmannian introduced by Postnikov in 2006. It arises naturally in Lusztig’s theory of total positivity and canonical bases, and is closely related to cluster algebras and scattering amplitudes.
    I will give some background on the above objects and then explain a precise relationship between the planar Ising model and the totally nonnegative Grassmannian, obtained in our recent work with P. Pylyavskyy. Building on this connection, I will give a new boundary correlation formula for the critical Ising model.

    10/26/2021Candida Bowtell, University of OxfordTitle: The n-queens problem

    Abstract: The n-queens problem asks how many ways there are to place n queens on an n x n chessboard so that no two queens can attack one another, and the toroidal n-queens problem asks the same question where the board is considered on the surface of a torus. Let Q(n) denote the number of n-queens configurations on the classical board and T(n) the number of toroidal n-queens configurations. The toroidal problem was first studied in 1918 by Pólya who showed that T(n)>0 if and only if n is not divisible by 2 or 3. Much more recently Luria showed that T(n) is at most ((1+o(1))ne^{-3})^n and conjectured equality when n is not divisible by 2 or 3. We prove this conjecture, prior to which no non-trivial lower bounds were known to hold for all (sufficiently large) n not divisible by 2 or 3. We also show that Q(n) is at least ((1+o(1))ne^{-3})^n for all natural numbers n which was independently proved by Luria and Simkin and, combined with our toroidal result, completely settles a conjecture of Rivin, Vardi and Zimmerman regarding both Q(n) and T(n).

    In this talk we’ll discuss our methods used to prove these results. A crucial element of this is translating the problem to one of counting matchings in a 4-partite 4-uniform hypergraph. Our strategy combines a random greedy algorithm to count `almost’ configurations with a complex absorbing strategy that uses ideas from the methods of randomised algebraic construction and iterative absorption.

    This is joint work with Peter Keevash.

    11/9/2021Steven Karp
    Universite du Quebec a Montreal, LaCIM (Laboratoire de combinatoire et d’informatique mathématique)
    Title: Gradient flows on totally nonnegative flag varieties

    Abstract: One can view a partial flag variety in C^n as an adjoint orbit inside the Lie algebra of n x n skew-Hermitian matrices. We use the orbit context to study the totally nonnegative part of a partial flag variety from an algebraic, geometric, and dynamical perspective. We classify gradient flows on adjoint orbits in various metrics which are compatible with total positivity. As applications, we show how the classical Toda flow fits into this framework, and prove that a new family of amplituhedra are homeomorphic to closed balls. This is joint work with Anthony Bloch.
    *note special time 12:30–1:30 ET*
    Yinon Spinka (University of British Columbia)Title: A tale of two balloons

    Abstract: From each point of a Poisson point process start growing a balloon at rate 1. When two balloons touch, they pop and disappear. Will balloons reach the origin infinitely often or not? We answer this question for various underlying spaces. En route we find a new(ish) 0-1 law, and generalize bounds on independent sets that are factors of IID on trees.
    Joint work with Omer Angel and Gourab Ray.

    11/23/2021Lutz Warnke (UC San Diego)Title: Prague dimension of random graphs

    Abstract: The Prague dimension of graphs was introduced by Nesetril, Pultr and Rodl in the 1970s: as a combinatorial measure of complexity, it is closely related to clique edges coverings and partitions. Proving a conjecture of Furedi and Kantor, we show that the Prague dimension of the binomial random graph is typically of order n/(log n) for constant edge-probabilities. The main new proof ingredient is a Pippenger-Spencer type edge-coloring result for random hypergraphs with large uniformities, i.e., edges of size O(log n).

    11/30/2021Karel Devriendt (University of Oxford)Title: Resistance curvature – a new discrete curvature on graphs

    Abstract: The last few decades have seen a surge of interest in building towards a theory of discrete curvature that attempts to translate the key properties of curvature in differential geometry to the setting of discrete objects and spaces. In the case of graphs there have been several successful proposals, for instance by Lin-Lu-Yau, Forman and Ollivier, that replicate important curvature theorems and have inspired applications in a variety of practical settings.
    In this talk, I will introduce a new notion of discrete curvature on graphs, which we call the resistance curvature, and discuss some of its basic properties. The resistance curvature is defined based on the concept of effective resistance which is a metric between the vertices of a graph and has many other properties such as a close relation to random spanning trees. The rich theory of these effective resistances allows to study the resistance curvature in great detail; I will for instance show that “Lin-Lu-Yau >= resistance >= Forman curvature” in a specific sense, show strong evidence that the resistance curvature converges to zero in expectation for Euclidean random graphs, and give a connectivity theorem for positively curved graphs. The resistance curvature also has a naturally associated discrete Ricci flow which is a gradient flow and has a closed-form solution in the case of vertex-transitive and path graphs.
    Finally, if time permits I will draw a connection with the geometry of hyperacute simplices, following the work of Miroslav Fiedler.
    This work was done in collaboration with Renaud Lambiotte.

    12/7/2021Matthew Jenssen (University of Birmingham)Title: The singularity probability of random symmetric matrices

    Abstract: Let M_n be drawn uniformly from all n by n symmetric matrices with entries in {-1,1}. In this talk I’ll consider the following basic question: what is the probability that M_n is singular? I’ll discuss recent joint work with Marcelo Campos, Marcus Michelen and Julian Sahasrabudhe where we show that this probability is exponentially small. I hope to make the talk accessible to a fairly general audience.

    12/14/2021Stefan Glock (ETH Zurich)Title: The longest induced path in a sparse random graph

    Abstract: A long-standing problem in random graph theory has been to determine asymptotically the length of a longest induced path in sparse random graphs. Independent work of Luczak and Suen from the 90s showed the existence of an induced path of roughly half the optimal size, which seems to be a barrier for certain natural approaches. Recently, in joint work with Draganic and Krivelevich, we solved this problem. In the talk, I will discuss the history of the problem and give an overview of the proof.

    01/25/2022Jacob Bourjaily
    Penn State University, Department of Physics
  • Member Seminar
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Member Seminar

    Speaker: Farzan Vafa

    Title: Diffusive growth sourced by topological defects

    Abstract: In this talk, we develop a minimal model of morphogenesis of a surface where the dynamics of the intrinsic geometry is diffusive growth sourced by topological defects. We show that a positive (negative) defect can dynamically generate a cone (hyperbolic cone). We analytically explain features of the growth profile as a function of position and time, and predict that in the presence of a positive defect, a bump forms with height profile h(t) ~ t^(1/2) for early times t. To incorporate the effect of the mean curvature, we exploit the fact that for axisymmetric surfaces, the extrinsic geometry can be deduced entirely by the intrinsic geometry. We find that the resulting stationary geometry, for polar order and small bending modulus, is a deformed football.
    We apply our framework to various biological systems. In an ex-vivo setting of cultured murine neural progenitor cells, we show that our framework is consistent with the observed cell accumulation at positive defects and depletion at negative defects. In an in-vivo setting, we show that the defect configuration consisting of a bound +1 defect state, which is stabilized by activity, surrounded by two -1/2 defects can create a stationary ring configuration of tentacles, consistent with observations of a basal marine invertebrate Hydra

  • CMSA EVENT: Simons Collaboration Workshop, Jan. 10-13, 2018
    9:00 am-12:00 pm

    The CMSA will be hosting a four-day Simons Collaboration Workshop on Homological Mirror Symmetry and Hodge Theory on January 10-13, 2018. The workshop will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.

    Please click here to register for this event.  We have space for up to 30 registrants on a first come, first serve basis.

    We may be able to provide some financial support for grad students and postdocs interested in this event.  If you are interested in funding, please send a letter of support from your mentor to Hansol Hong at hansol84@gmail.com.


    Confirmed Participants:

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: A main challenge in analyzing single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data is to reduce technical variations yet retain cell heterogeneity. Due to low mRNAs content per cell and molecule losses during the experiment (called ‘dropout’), the gene expression matrix has a substantial amount of zero read counts. Existing imputation methods treat either each cell or each gene as independently and identically distributed, which oversimplifies the gene correlation and cell type structure. We propose a statistical model-based approach, called SIMPLEs (SIngle-cell RNA-seq iMPutation and celL clustErings), which iteratively identifies correlated gene modules and cell clusters and imputes dropouts customized for individual gene module and cell type. Simultaneously, it quantifies the uncertainty of imputation and cell clustering via multiple imputations. In simulations, SIMPLEs performed significantly better than prevailing scRNA-seq imputation methods according to various metrics. By applying SIMPLEs to several real datasets, we discovered gene modules that can further classify subtypes of cells. Our imputations successfully recovered the expression trends of marker genes in stem cell differentiation and can discover putative pathways regulating biological processes.

  • Workshop
    9:00 am-1:00 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    On April 15, 2022, the CMSA will hold a one-day workshop, Machine Learning and Mathematical Conjecture, related to the New Technologies in Mathematics Seminar Series.

    Location: Room G10, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

    Organizers: Michael R. Douglas (CMSA/Stony Brook/IAIFI) and Peter Chin (CMSA/BU).

    Machine learning has driven many exciting recent scientific advances. It has enabled progress on long-standing challenges such as protein folding, and it has helped mathematicians and mathematical physicists create new conjectures and theorems in knot theory, algebraic geometry, and representation theory.

    At this workshop, we will bring together mathematicians, theoretical physicists, and machine learning researchers to review the state of the art in machine learning, discuss how ML results can be used to inspire, test and refine precise conjectures, and identify mathematical questions which may be suitable for this approach.


    • James Halverson, Northeastern University Dept. of Physics and IAIFI
    • Fabian Ruehle, Northeastern University Dept. of Physics and Mathematics and IAIFI
    • Andrew Sutherland, MIT Department of Mathematics







  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Encryption is the backbone of cybersecurity. While encryption can secure data both in transit and at rest, in the new era of ubiquitous computing, modern cryptography also aims to protect data during computation. Secure multi-party computation (MPC) is a powerful technology to tackle this problem, which enables distrustful parties to jointly perform computation over their private data without revealing their data to each other. Although it is theoretically feasible and provably secure, the adoption of MPC in real industry is still very much limited as of today, the biggest obstacle of which boils down to its efficiency.

    My research goal is to bridge the gap between the theoretical feasibility and practical efficiency of MPC. Towards this goal, my research spans both theoretical and applied cryptography. In theory, I develop new techniques for achieving general MPC with the optimal complexity, bringing theory closer to practice. In practice, I design tailored MPC to achieve the best concrete efficiency for specific real-world applications. In this talk, I will discuss the challenges in both directions and how to overcome these challenges using cryptographic approaches. I will also show strong connections between theory and practice.

    Peihan Miao is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Before coming to UIC, she received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2019 and had brief stints at Google, Facebook, Microsoft Research, and Visa Research. Her research interests lie broadly in cryptography, theory, and security, with a focus on secure multi-party computation — especially in incorporating her industry experiences into academic research.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    6/10/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Combinatorics Physics and Probability

    Combinatorics Physics and Probability
    Algebraic Statistics with a View towards Physics

    9:00 am-10:00 am
    20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    Abstract: We discuss the algebraic geometry of maximum likelihood estimation from the perspective of scattering amplitudes in particle physics. A guiding examples the moduli space of n-pointed rational curves. The scattering potential plays the role of the log-likelihood function, and its critical points are solutions to rational function equations. Their number is an Euler characteristic. Soft limit degenerations are combined with certified numerical methods for concrete computations.

    **This talk will be hybrid. Talk will be held at CMSA (20 Garden St) Room G10.

    All non-Harvard affiliated visitors to the CMSA building will need to complete this covid form prior to arrival.


  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract:  Introducing internal degrees of freedom in the description of crystalline insulators has led to a myriad of theoretical and experimental advances. Of particular interest are the effects of periodic perturbations, either in time or space, as they considerably enrich the variety of electronic responses. Here, we present a semiclassical approach to transport and accumulation of general spinor degrees of freedom in adiabatically driven, weakly inhomogeneous crystals of dimensions one, two and three under external electromagnetic fields. Our approach shows that spatio-temporal modulations of the system induce a spinor current and density that is related to geometrical and topological objects — the spinor-Chern fluxes and numbers — defined over the higher-dimensional phase-space of the system, i.e., its combined momentum-position-time coordinates.

    The results are available here: https://arxiv.org/abs/2203.14902

    Bio: Ioannis Petrides is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on the topological and geometrical aspects of condensed matter systems.

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Camillo De Lellis (IAS)

    Title: Area-minimizing integral currents and their regularity

    Abstract: Caccioppoli sets and integral currents (their generalization in higher codimension) were introduced in the late fifties and early sixties to give a general geometric approach to the existence of area-minimizing oriented surfaces spanning a given contour. These concepts started a whole new subject which has had tremendous impacts in several areas of mathematics: superficially through direct applications of the main theorems, but more deeply because of the techniques which have been invented to deal with related analytical and geometrical challenges. In this lecture I will review the basic concepts, the related existence theory of solutions of the Plateau problem, and what is known about their regularity. I will also touch upon several fundamental open problems which still defy our understanding. 

    Talk Chair: William Minicozzi


  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    7/1/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    6/24/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-12:13 pm

    Harry Shum (Tsinghua University)

    Title: From Deep Learning to Deep Understanding

    Abstract: In this talk I will discuss a couple of research directions for robust AI beyond deep neural networks. The first is the need to understand what we are learning, by shifting the focus from targeting effects to understanding causes. The second is the need for a hybrid neural/symbolic approach that leverages both commonsense knowledge and massive amount of data. Specifically, as an example, I will present some latest work at Microsoft Research on building a pre-trained grounded text generator for task-oriented dialog. It is a hybrid architecture that employs a large-scale Transformer-based deep learning model,  and symbol manipulation modules such as business databases, knowledge graphs and commonsense rules. Unlike GPT or similar language models learnt from data, it is a multi-turn decision making system which takes user input, updates the belief state, retrieved from the database via symbolic reasoning, and decides how to complete the task with grounded response.

    Talk chair: Shing-Tung Yau


  • Workshop
    9:00 am-5:00 pm
    GR Workshop Poster

    General Relativity Workshop on scalar curvature, minimal surfaces, and initial data sets

    Dates: May 2–5, 2022

    Location: Room G10, CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138 and via Zoom webinar.
    Advanced registration for in-person components is required.

    Organizers: Dan Lee (CMSA/CUNY), Martin Lesourd (CMSA/BHI), and Lan-Hsuan Huang (University of Connecticut).


    • Zhongshan An, University of Connecticut
    • Paula Burkhardt-Guim, NYU
    • Hyun Chul Jang, University of Miami
    • Chao Li, NYU
    • Christos Mantoulidis, Rice University
    • Robin Neumayer, Carnegie Mellon University
    • Andre Neves, University of Chicago
    • Tristan Ozuch, MIT
    • Annachiara Piubello, University of Miami
    • Antoine Song, UC Berkeley
    • Tin-Yau Tsang, UC Irvine
    • Ryan Unger, Princeton
    • Zhizhang Xie, Texas A & M
    • Xin Zhou, Cornell University
    • Jonathan Zhu, Princeton University


    Download PDF

    Monday, May 2, 2022

    9:30–10:30 amHyun Chul JangTitle: Mass rigidity for asymptotically locally hyperbolic manifolds with boundary

    Abstract: Asymptotically locally hyperbolic (ALH) manifolds are a class of manifolds whose sectional curvature converges to −1 at infinity. If a given ALH manifold is asymptotic to a static reference manifold, the Wang-Chruściel-Herzlich mass integrals are well-defined, which is a geometric invariant that essentially measure the difference from the reference manifold. In this talk, I will present the result that an ALH manifold which minimize the mass integrals admits a static potential. To show this, we proved the scalar curvature map is locally surjective when it is defined on (1) the space of ALH metrics that coincide exponentially toward the boundary or (2) the space of ALH metrics with arbitrarily prescribed nearby Bartnik boundary data. And then, we establish the rigidity of the known positive mass theorems by studying the static uniqueness. This talk is based on joint work with L.-H. Huang.

    10:40–11:40 amAnnachiara PiubelloTitle: Estimates on the Bartnik mass and their geometric implications.

    Abstract: In this talk, we will discuss some recent estimates on the Bartnik mass for data with non-negative Gauss curvature and positive mean curvature. In particular, if the metric is round the estimate reduces to an estimate found by Miao and if the total mean curvature approaches 0, the estimate tends to 1/2 the area radius, which is the bound found by Mantoulidis and Schoen in the blackhole horizon case. We will then discuss some geometric implications. This is joint work with Pengzi Miao.

    1:30–2:30 pmRyan UngerTitle: Density and positive mass theorems for black holes and incomplete manifolds

    Abstract: We generalize the density theorems for the Einstein constraint equations of Corvino-Schoen and Eichmair-Huang-Lee-Schoen to allow for marginally outer trapped boundaries (which correspond physically to apparent horizons). As an application, we resolve the spacetime positive mass theorem in the presence of MOTS boundary in the non-spin case. This also has a surprising application to the Riemannian setting, including a non-filling result for manifolds with negative mass. This is joint work with Martin Lesourd and Dan Lee.

    2:40–3:40 pmZhizhang XieTitle: Gromov’s dihedral extremality/rigidity conjectures and their applications I

    Abstract: Gromov’s dihedral extremality and rigidity conjectures concern comparisons of scalar curvature, mean curvature and dihedral angle for compact manifolds with corners. They have very interesting consequences in geometry and mathematical physics. The conjectures themselves can in some sense be viewed as “localizations” of the positive mass theorem. I will explain some recent work on positive solutions to these conjectures and some related applications (such as a positive solution to the Stoker conjecture). The talks are based on my joint works with Jinmin Wang and Guoliang Yu.

    4:10–5:10 pmAntoine Song (virtual)Title: The spherical Plateau problem

    Abstract: For any closed oriented manifold with fundamental group G, or more generally any group homology class for a group G, I will discuss an infinite codimension Plateau problem in a Hilbert classifying space for G. For instance, for a closed oriented 3-manifold M, the intrinsic geometry of any Plateau solution is given by the hyperbolic part of M.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2022

    9:30–10:30 amChao LiTitle: Stable minimal hypersurfaces in 4-manifolds

    Abstract: There have been a classical theory for complete minimal surfaces in 3-manifolds, including the stable Bernstein conjecture in R^3 and rigidity results in 3-manifolds with positive Ricci curvature. In this talk, I will discuss how one may extend these results in four dimensions. This leads to new comparison theorems for positively curved 4-manifolds.

    10:40–11:40 amRobin NeumayerTitle: An Introduction to $d_p$ Convergence of Riemannian Manifolds I

    Abstract: What can you say about the structure or a-priori regularity of a Riemannian manifold if you know certain bounds on its curvature? To understand this question, it is often important to understand in what sense a sequence of Riemannian manifolds (possessing a given curvature constraint) will converge, and what the limiting objects look like. In this mini-course, we introduce the notions of $d_p$ convergence of Riemannian manifolds and of rectifiable Riemannian spaces, the objects that arise as $d_p$ limits. This type of convergence can be useful in contexts when the distance functions of the Riemannian manifolds are not uniformly controlled. This course is based on joint work with Man Chun Lee and Aaron Naber.

    1:30–2:30 pmZhongshan AnTitle: Local existence and uniqueness of static vacuum extensions of Bartnik boundary data

    Abstract: The study of static vacuum Riemannian metrics arises naturally in differential geometry and general relativity. It plays an important role in scalar curvature deformation, as well as in constructing Einstein spacetimes. Existence of static vacuum Riemannian metrics with prescribed Bartnik data — the induced metric and mean curvature of the boundary — is one of the most fundamental problems in Riemannian geometry related to general relativity. It is also a very interesting problem on the global solvability of a natural geometric boundary value problem. In this talk I will first discuss some basic properties of the nonlinear and linearized static vacuum equations and the geometric boundary conditions. Then I will present some recent progress towards the existence problem of static vacuum metrics based on joint works with Lan-Hsuan Huang.

    2:40–3:40 pmZhizhang XieTitle: Gromov’s dihedral extremality/rigidity conjectures and their applications II

    Abstract: Gromov’s dihedral extremality and rigidity conjectures concern comparisons of scalar curvature, mean curvature and dihedral angle for compact manifolds with corners. They have very interesting consequences in geometry and mathematical physics. The conjectures themselves can in some sense be viewed as “localizations” of the positive mass theorem. I will explain some recent work on positive solutions to these conjectures and some related applications (such as a positive solution to the Stoker conjecture). The talks are based on my joint works with Jinmin Wang and Guoliang Yu.

    4:10–5:10 pmTin-Yau TsangTitle: Dihedral rigidity, fill-in and spacetime positive mass theorem

    Abstract: For compact manifolds with boundary, to characterise the relation between scalar curvature and boundary geometry, Gromov proposed dihedral rigidity conjecture and fill-in conjecture. In this talk, we will see the role of spacetime positive mass theorem in answering the corresponding questions for initial data sets.

    Speakers Banquet

    Wednesday, May 4, 2022

    9:30–10:30 amTristan OzuchTitle: Weighted versions of scalar curvature, mass and spin geometry for Ricci flows

    Abstract: With A. Deruelle, we define a Perelman-like functional for ALE metrics which lets us study the (in)stability of Ricci-flat ALE metrics. With J. Baldauf, we extend some classical objects and formulas from the study of scalar curvature, spin geometry and general relativity to manifolds with densities. We surprisingly find that the extension of ADM mass is the opposite of the above functional introduced with A. Deruelle. Through a weighted Witten’s formula, this functional also equals a weighted spinorial Dirichlet energy on spin manifolds. Ricci flow is the gradient flow of all of these quantities.

    10:40–11:40 amRobin NeumayerTitle: An Introduction to $d_p$ Convergence of Riemannian Manifolds II

    Abstract: What can you say about the structure or a-priori regularity of a Riemannian manifold if you know certain bounds on its curvature? To understand this question, it is often important to understand in what sense a sequence of Riemannian manifolds (possessing a given curvature constraint) will converge, and what the limiting objects look like. In this mini-course, we introduce the notions of $d_p$ convergence of Riemannian manifolds and of rectifiable Riemannian spaces, the objects that arise as $d_p$ limits. This type of convergence can be useful in contexts when the distance functions of the Riemannian manifolds are not uniformly controlled. This course is based on joint work with Man Chun Lee and Aaron Naber.

    1:30–2:30 pmChristos MantoulidisTitle: Metrics with lambda_1(-Delta+kR) > 0 and applications to the Riemannian Penrose Inequality

    Abstract: On a closed n-dimensional manifold, consider the space of all Riemannian metrics for which -Delta+kR is positive (nonnegative) definite, where k > 0 and R is the scalar curvature. This spectral generalization of positive (nonnegative) scalar curvature arises naturally, for different values of k, in the study of scalar curvature in dimension n + 1 via minimal surfaces, the Yamabe problem in dimension n, and Perelman’s surgery for Ricci flow in dimension n = 3. We study these spaces in unison and generalize, as appropriate, scalar curvature results that we eventually apply to k = 1/2, where the space above models apparent horizons in time-symmetric initial data sets to the Einstein equations and whose flexibility properties are intimately tied with the instability of the Riemannian Penrose Inequality. This is joint work with Chao Li.

    2:40–3:40 pmZhizhang XieTitle: Gromov’s dihedral extremality/rigidity conjectures and their applications III

    Abstract: Gromov’s dihedral extremality and rigidity conjectures concern comparisons of scalar curvature, mean curvature and dihedral angle for compact manifolds with corners. They have very interesting consequences in geometry and mathematical physics. The conjectures themselves can in some sense be viewed as “localizations” of the positive mass theorem. I will explain some recent work on positive solutions to these conjectures and some related applications (such as a positive solution to the Stoker conjecture). The talks are based on my joint works with Jinmin Wang and Guoliang Yu.

    4:10–5:10 pmXin Zhou
    Title: Min-max minimal hypersurfaces with higher multiplicity

    Abstract: It is well known that minimal hypersurfaces produced by the Almgren-Pitts min-max theory are counted with integer multiplicities. For bumpy metrics (which form a generic set), the multiplicities are one thanks to the resolution of the Marques-Neves Multiplicity One Conjecture. In this talk, we will exhibit a set of non-bumpy metrics on the standard (n+1)-sphere, in which the min-max varifold associated with the second volume spectrum is a multiplicity two n-sphere. Such non-bumpy metrics form the first set of examples where the min-max theory must produce higher multiplicity minimal hypersurfaces. The talk is based on a joint work with Zhichao Wang (UBC).

    May 5, 2022

    9:00–10:00 amAndre NevesTitle: Metrics on spheres where all the equators are minimal

    Abstract: I will talk about joint work with Lucas Ambrozio and Fernando Marques where we study the space of metrics where all the equators are minimal.

    10:10–11:10 amRobin NeumayerTitle: An Introduction to $d_p$ Convergence of Riemannian Manifolds III

    Abstract: What can you say about the structure or a-priori regularity of a Riemannian manifold if you know certain bounds on its curvature? To understand this question, it is often important to understand in what sense a sequence of Riemannian manifolds (possessing a given curvature constraint) will converge, and what the limiting objects look like. In this mini-course, we introduce the notions of $d_p$ convergence of Riemannian manifolds and of rectifiable Riemannian spaces, the objects that arise as $d_p$ limits. This type of convergence can be useful in contexts when the distance functions of the Riemannian manifolds are not uniformly controlled. This course is based on joint work with Man Chun Lee and Aaron Naber.

    11:20–12:20 pmPaula Burkhardt-GuimTitle: Lower scalar curvature bounds for C^0 metrics: a Ricci flow approach

    Abstract: We describe some recent work that has been done to generalize the notion of lower scalar curvature bounds to C^0 metrics, including a localized Ricci flow approach. In particular, we show the following: that there is a Ricci flow definition which is stable under greater-than-second-order perturbation of the metric, that there exists a reasonable notion of a Ricci flow starting from C^0 initial data which is smooth for positive times, and that the weak lower scalar curvature bounds are preserved under evolution by the Ricci flow from C^0 initial data.

    1:30–2:30 pmJonathan ZhuTitle: Widths, minimal submanifolds and symplectic embeddings

    Abstract: Width or waist inequalities measure the size of a manifold with respect to measures of families of submanifolds. We’ll discuss related area estimates for minimal submanifolds, as well as applications to quantitative symplectic camels.

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-9:06 am

    Claire Voisin (Collège de France)

    Title: Hodge structures and the topology of algebraic varieties

    Abstract: We review the major progress made since the 50’s in our understanding of the topology of complex algebraic varieties. Most of the results  we will discuss  rely on Hodge theory, which  has some analytic aspects giving the Hodge and Lefschetz decompositions, and the Hodge-Riemann relations. We will see that a crucial ingredient, the existence of a polarization,  is missing in the general Kaehler context. We will also discuss some results and problems related to algebraic cycles and motives.

    Talk chair: Joe Harris

    Video | Slides | Article

  • CMSA EVENT: Conference in Memory of Professor Masatake Kuranishi
    9:00 am-12:30 pm
    150 Western Ave, Allston, MA 02134

    On May 9–12, 2022, the CMSA hosted the conference Deformations of structures and moduli in geometry and analysis: A Memorial in honor of Professor Masatake Kuranishi.

    Organizers:  Tristan Collins (MIT) and Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard and Tsinghua)

    Videos are available on the conference playlist.



    Charles Fefferman (Princeton University)

    Teng Fei (Rutgers University)

    Robert Friedman (Columbia University)

    Kenji Fukaya (Simons Center, Stony Brook)

    Akito Futaki (Tsinghua University)

    Victor Guillemin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

    Nigel Hitchin (Oxford University)

    Blaine Lawson (Stony Brook University)

    Yu-Shen Lin (Boston University)

    Melissa C.C. Liu (Columbia University)

    Takeo Ohsawa (Nagoya University)

    Duong H. Phong (Columbia University)

    Sebastien Picard (University of British Columbia)

    Paul Seidel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

    Gabor Szekelyhidi (University of Notre Dame)

    Claire Voisin (Institut de Mathematiques, Jussieu, France)

    Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard University)


    Schedule (download pdf)

    Monday, May 9, 2022

    8:15 amLight breakfast & coffee/tea
    8:45–9:00 amOpening Remarks
    9:00–10:00 amKenji FukayaTitle: Gromov Hausdorff convergence of filtered A infinity category

    Abstract: In mirror symmetry a mirror to a symplectic manifold is actually believed to be a family of complex manifold parametrized by a disk (of radius 0). The coordinate ring of the parameter space is a kind of formal power series ring the Novikov ring. Novikov ring is a coefficient ring of Floer homology. Most of the works on homological Mirror symmetry so far studies A infinity category over Novikov field, which corresponds to the study of generic fiber. The study of A infinity category over Novikov ring is related to several interesting phenomenon of Hamiltonian dynamics. In this talk I will explain a notion which I believe is useful to study mirror symmetry.


    10:15–11:15 amNigel Hitchin (Zoom)Title: Deformations: A personal perspective

    Abstract: The talk, largely historical, will focus on different deformation complexes I have encountered in my work, starting with instantons on 4-manifolds, but also monopoles, Higgs bundles and generalized complex structures. I will also discuss some speculative ideas related to surfaces of negative curvature.


    11:30–12:30 pmH. Blaine LawsonTitle: Projective Hulls, Projective Linking, and Boundaries of Varieties

    Abstract: In 1958 John Wermer proved that the polynomial hull of a compact real analytic curve γ ⊂ Cn was a 1-dim’l complex subvariety of Cn − γ. This result engendered much subsequent activity, and was related to Gelfand’s spectrum of a Banach algebra. In the early 2000’s Reese Harvey and I found a projective analogue of these concepts and wondered whether Wermer’s Theorem could be generalized to the projective setting. This question turned out to be more subtle and quite intriguing, with unexpected consequences. We now know a great deal, a highpoint of which s a result with Harvey and Wermer. It led to conjectures (for Cω-curves in P2C) which imply several results. One says, roughly, that a (2p − 1)-cycle Γ in Pn bounds a positive holomorphic p-chain of mass ≤ Λ ⇐⇒ its normalized linking number with all positive (n − p)-cycles in Pn − |Γ| is ≥ −Λ. Another says that a class τ ∈ H2p(Pn,|Γ|;Z) with ∂τ = Γ contains a positive holomorphic p-chain ⇐⇒ τ•[Z]≥0 for all positive holomorphic (n−p)-cycles Z in Pn−|Γ|


    12:30–2:30 pmLunch Break
    2:30–3:30 pmGabor SzekelyhidiTitle: Singularities along the Lagrangian mean curvature flow.

    Abstract: We study singularity formation along the Lagrangian mean curvature flow of surfaces. On the one hand we show that if a tangent flow at a singularity is the special Lagrangian union of two transverse planes, then the flow undergoes a “neck pinch”, and can be continued past the flow. This can be related to the Thomas-Yau conjecture on stability conditions along the Lagrangian mean curvature flow. In a different direction we show that ancient solutions of the flow, whose blow-down is given by two planes meeting along a line, must be translators. These are joint works with Jason Lotay and Felix Schulze.


    3:30–4:00 pmCoffee Break 
    4:00–5:00 pmTakeo OhsawaTitle: Glimpses of embeddings and deformations of CR manifolds

    Abstract: Basic results on the embeddings and the deformations of CR manifolds will be reviewed with emphasis on the reminiscences of impressive moments with Kuranishi since his visit to Kyoto in 1975.





    Tuesday, May 10, 2022


    8:15 amLight breakfast & coffee/tea
    9:00–10:00 amCharles Fefferman (Zoom)Title: Interpolation of Data by Smooth Functions

    Abstract: Let X be your favorite Banach space of continuous functions on R^n. Given an (arbitrary) set E in R^n and an arbitrary function f:E->R, we ask: How can we tell whether f extends to a function F \in X? If such an F exists, then how small can we take its norm? What can we say about its derivatives (assuming functions in X have derivatives)? Can we take F to depend linearly on f? Suppose E is finite. Can we compute an F as above with norm nearly as small as possible? How many computer operations does it take? What if F is required to agree only approximately with f on E? What if we are allowed to discard a few data points (x, f(x)) as “outliers”? Which points should we discard?

    The results were obtained jointly with A. Israel, B. Klartag, G.K. Luli and P. Shvartsman over many years.


    10:15–11:15 amClaire VoisinTitle: Deformations of K-trivial manifolds and applications to hyper-Kähler geometry

    Summary: I will explain the Ran approach via the T^1-lifting principle to the BTT theorem stating that deformations of K-trivial compact Kähler manifolds are unobstructed. I will explain a similar unobstructedness result for Lagrangian submanifolds of hyper-Kähler manifolds and I will describe important consequences on the topology and geometry of hyper-Kähler manifolds.


    11:30– 2:30 pmVictor GuilleminTitle: Semi-Classical Functions of Isotropic Type

    Abstract: The world of semiclassical analysis is populated by objects of “Lagrangian type.” The topic of this talk however will be objects in semi-classical analysis that live instead on isotropic submanifolds. I will describe in my talk a lot of interesting examples of such objects.


    12:30–2:30 pmLunch Break
    2:30–3:30 pmTeng FeiTitle: Symplectic deformations and the Type IIA flow

    Abstract: The equations of flux compactification of Type IIA superstrings were written down by Tomasiello and Tseng-Yau. To study these equations, we introduce a natural geometric flow known as the Type IIA flow on symplectic Calabi-Yau 6-manifolds. We prove the wellposedness of this flow and establish the basic estimates. We show that the Type IIA flow can be applied to find optimal almost complex structures on certain symplectic manifolds. We prove the dynamical stability of the Type IIA flow, which leads to a proof of stability of Kahler property for Calabi-Yau 3-folds under symplectic deformations. This is based on joint work with Phong, Picard and Zhang.


    Speakers Banquet




    Wednesday, May 11, 2022


    8:15 amLight breakfast & coffee/tea
    9:00–10:00 amShing-Tung Yau (Zoom)Title: Canonical metrics and stability in mirror symmetry

    Abstract: I will discuss the deformed Hermitian-Yang-Mills equation, its role in mirror symmetry and its connections to notions of stability.  I will review what is known, and pose some questions for the future.


    10:15–11:15 amDuong H. PhongTitle: $L^\infty$ estimates for the Monge-Ampere and other fully non-linear equations in complex geometry

    Abstract: A priori estimates are essential for the understanding of partial differential equations, and of these, $L^\infty$ estimates are particularly important as they are also needed for other estimates. The key $L^\infty$ estimates were obtained by S.T. Yau in 1976 for the Monge-Ampere equation for the Calabi conjecture, and sharp estimates obtained later in 1998 by Kolodziej using pluripotential theory. It had been a long-standing question whether a PDE proof of these estimates was possible. We provide a positive answer to this question, and derive as a consequence sharp estimates for general classes of fully non-linear equations. This is joint work with B. Guo and F. Tong.


    11:30–2:30 pmPaul SeidelTitle: The quantum connection: familiar yet puzzling

    Abstract: The small quantum connection on a Fano variety is possibly the most basic piece of enumerative geometry. In spite of being really easy to write down, it is the subject of far-reaching conjectures (Dubrovin, Galkin, Iritani), which challenge our understanding of mirror symmetry. I will give a gentle introduction to the simplest of these questions.


    12:30–2:30 pmLunch Break
    2:30–3:30 pmMelissa C.C. LiuTitle: Higgs-Coulumb correspondence for abelian gauged linear sigma models

    Abstract: The underlying geometry of a gauged linear sigma model (GLSM) consists of a GIT quotient of a complex vector space by the linear action of a reductive algebraic group G (the gauge group) and a polynomial function (the superpotential) on the GIT quotient. The Higgs-Coulomb correspondence relates (1) GLSM invariants which are virtual counts of curves in the critical locus of the superpotential (Higgs branch), and (2) Mellin-Barnes type integrals on the Lie algebra of G (Coulomb branch). In this talk, I will describe the correspondence when G is an algebraic torus, and explain how to use the correspondence to study dependence of GLSM invariants on the stability condition. This is based on joint work with Konstantin Aleshkin.


    3:30–4:00 pmCoffee Break 
    4:00–5:00 pmSebastien PicardTitle: Topological Transitions of Calabi-Yau Threefolds

    Abstract: Conifold transitions were proposed in the works of Clemens, Reid and Friedman as a way to travel in the parameter space of Calabi-Yau threefolds with different Hodge numbers. This process may deform a Kahler Calabi-Yau threefold into a non-Kahler complex manifold with trivial canonical bundle. We will discuss the propagation of differential geometric structures such as balanced hermitian metrics, Yang-Mills connections, and special submanifolds through conifold transitions. This is joint work with T. Collins, S. Gukov and S.-T. Yau.





    Thursday, May 12, 2022


    8:15 amLight breakfast & coffee/tea
    9:00 am–10:00 amAkito Futaki (Zoom)Title: Transverse coupled Kähler-Einstein metrics and volume minimization

    We show that transverse coupled Kähler-Einstein metrics on toric Sasaki manifolds arise as a critical point of a volume functional. As a preparation for the proof, we re-visit the transverse moment polytopes and contact moment polytopes under the change of Reeb vector fields. Then we apply it to a coupled version of the volume minimization by Martelli-Sparks-Yau. This is done assuming the Calabi-Yau condition of the Kählercone, and the non-coupled case leads to a known existence result of a transverse Kähler-Einstein metric and a Sasaki-Einstein metric, but the coupled case requires an assumption related to Minkowski sum to obtain transverse coupled Kähler-Einstein metrics.Video
    10:15 am–11:15 amYu-Shen LinTitle: SYZ Mirror Symmetry of Log Calabi-Yau Surfaces

    Abstract: Strominger-Yau-Zaslow conjecture predicts Calabi-Yau manifolds admits special Lagrangian fibrations. The conjecture serves as one of the guiding principles in mirror symmetry. In this talk, I will explain the existence of the special Lagrangian fibrations in some log Calabi-Yau surfaces and their dual fibrations in their expected mirrors. The journey leads us to the study of the moduli space of Ricci-flat metrics with certain asymptotics on these geometries and the discovery of new semi-flat metrics. If time permits, I will explain the application to the Torelli theorem of ALH^* gravitational instantons. The talk is based on joint works with T. Collins and A. Jacob.


    11:30 am – 12:30 pmRobert FriedmanTitle: Deformations of singular Fano and Calabi-Yau varieties

    Abstract: This talk will describe recent joint work with Radu Laza on deformations of generalized Fano and Calabi-Yau varieties, i.e. compact analytic spaces whose dualizing sheaves are either duals of ample line bundles or are trivial. Under the assumption of isolated hypersurface canonical singularities, we extend results of Namikawa and Steenbrink in dimension three and discuss various generalizations to higher dimensions.


    12:30 pmConcluding Remarks


  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    Speaker: Fouad El Baidouri, Broad Institute

    Title: The phenotype of the last universal common ancestor and the evolution of complexity

    Abstract: A fundamental concept in evolutionary theory is the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) from which all living organisms originated. While some authors have suggested a relatively complex LUCA it is still widely assumed that LUCA must have been a very simple cell and that life has subsequently increased in complexity through time. However, while current thought does tend towards a general increase in complexity through time in Eukaryotes, there is increasing evidence that bacteria and archaea have undergone considerable genome reduction during their evolution. This raises the surprising possibility that LUCA, as the ancestor of bacteria and archaea may have been a considerably complex cell. While hypotheses regarding the phenotype of LUCA do exist, all are founded on gene presence/absence. Yet, despite recent attempts to link genes and phenotypic traits in prokaryotes, it is still inherently difficult to predict phenotype based on the presence or absence of genes alone. In response to this, we used Bayesian phylogenetic comparative methods to predict ancestral traits. Testing for robustness to horizontal gene transfer (HGT) we inferred the phenotypic traits of LUCA using two robust published phylogenetic trees and a dataset of 3,128 bacterial and archaeal species.

    Our results depict LUCA as a far more complex cell than has previously been proposed, challenging the evolutionary model of increased complexity through time in prokaryotes. Given current estimates for the emergence of LUCA we suggest that early life very rapidly evolved cellular complexity.

  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am
    CMSA QMMP Seminar 09.26.22

    Quantum Matter in Mathematics and Physics

    Speaker: Avner Karasik (University of Cambridge, UK)

    Title: Candidates for Non-Supersymmetric Dualities

    Abstract: In the talk I will discuss the possibility and the obstructions of finding non-supersymmetric dualities for 4d gauge theories. I will review consistency conditions based on Weingarten inequalities, anomalies and large N, and clarify some subtle points and misconceptions about them. Later I will go over some old and new examples of candidates for non-supersymmetric dualities. The will be based on 2208.07842


  • Conference
    9:00 am-5:30 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    On Feb 27-March 1, 2023 the CMSA will host a Conference on Geometry and Statistics.

    Location: G10, CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138

    This conference will be held in person. Directions and Recommended Lodging

    Registration is required.

    Register here to attend in-person.

    Organizing Committee:
    Stephan Huckemann (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
    Ezra Miller (Duke University)
    Zhigang Yao (Harvard CMSA and Committee Chair)

    Scientific Advisors:
    Horng-Tzer Yau (Harvard CMSA)
    Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard CMSA)


    • Tamara Broderick (MIT)
    • David Donoho (Stanford)
    • Ian Dryden (Florida International University in Miami)
    • David Dunson (Duke)
    • Charles Fefferman (Princeton)
    • Stefanie Jegelka (MIT)
    • Sebastian Kurtek (OSU)
    • Lizhen Lin (Notre Dame)
    • Steve Marron (U North Carolina)
    • Ezra Miller (Duke)
    • Hans-Georg Mueller (UC Davis)
    • Nicolai Reshetikhin (UC Berkeley)
    • Wolfgang Polonik (UC Davis)
    • Amit Singer (Princeton)
    • Zhigang Yao (Harvard CMSA)
    • Bin Yu (Berkeley)

    Moderator: Michael Simkin (Harvard CMSA)



    Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 (Eastern Time)

    8:30 amBreakfast
    8:45–8:55 amZhigang YaoWelcome Remarks
    8:55–9:00 amShing-Tung Yau*Remarks
    Morning Session Chair: Zhigang Yao
    9:00–10:00 amDavid DonohoTitle: ScreeNOT: Exact MSE-Optimal Singular Value Thresholding in Correlated Noise

    Abstract: Truncation of the singular value decomposition is a true scientific workhorse. But where to Truncate?

    For 55 years the answer, for many scientists, has been to eyeball the scree plot, an approach which still generates hundreds of papers per year.

    I will describe ScreeNOT, a mathematically solid alternative deriving from the many advances in Random Matrix Theory over those 55 years. Assuming a model of low-rank signal plus possibly correlated noise, and adopting an asymptotic viewpoint with number of rows proportional to the number of columns, we show that ScreeNOT has a surprising oracle property.

    It typically achieves exactly, in large finite samples, the lowest possible MSE for matrix recovery, on each given problem instance – i.e. the specific threshold it selects gives exactly the smallest achievable MSE loss among all possible threshold choices for that noisy dataset and that unknown underlying true low rank model. The method is computationally efficient and robust against perturbations of the underlying covariance structure.

    The talk is based on joint work with Matan Gavish and Elad Romanov, Hebrew University.

    10:00–10:10 amBreak
    10:10–11:10 amSteve MarronTitle: Modes of Variation in Non-Euclidean Spaces

    Abstract: Modes of Variation provide an intuitive means of understanding variation in populations, especially in the case of data objects that naturally lie in non-Euclidean spaces. A variety of useful approaches to finding useful modes of variation are considered in several non-Euclidean contexts, including shapes as data objects, vectors of directional data, amplitude and phase variation and compositional data.

    11:10–11:20 amBreak
    11:20 am–12:20 pmZhigang YaoTitle: Manifold fitting: an invitation to statistics

    Abstract: While classical statistics has dealt with observations which are real numbers or elements of a real vector space, nowadays many statistical problems of high interest in the sciences deal with the analysis of data which consist of more complex objects, taking values in spaces which are naturally not (Euclidean) vector spaces but which still feature some geometric structure. This manifold fitting problem can go back to H. Whitney’s work in the early 1930s (Whitney (1992)), and finally has been answered in recent years by C. Fefferman’s works (Fefferman, 2006, 2005). The solution to the Whitney extension problem leads to new insights for data interpolation and inspires the formulation of the Geometric Whitney Problems (Fefferman et al. (2020, 2021a)): Assume that we are given a set $Y \subset \mathbb{R}^D$. When can we construct a smooth $d$-dimensional submanifold $\widehat{M} \subset \mathbb{R}^D$ to approximate $Y$, and how well can $\widehat{M}$ estimate $Y$ in terms of distance and smoothness? To address these problems, various mathematical approaches have been proposed (see Fefferman et al. (2016, 2018, 2021b)). However, many of these methods rely on restrictive assumptions, making extending them to efficient and workable algorithms challenging. As the manifold hypothesis (non-Euclidean structure exploration) continues to be a foundational element in statistics, the manifold fitting Problem, merits further exploration and discussion within the modern statistical community. The talk will be partially based on a recent work Yao and Xia (2019) along with some on-going progress. Relevant reference:https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.10228

     12:20–1:50 pm12:20 pm Group Photo

    followed by Lunch

    Afternoon Session Chair: Stephan Huckemann
    1:50–2:50 pmBin Yu*Title: Interpreting Deep Neural Networks towards Trustworthiness

    Abstract: Recent deep learning models have achieved impressive predictive performance by learning complex functions of many variables, often at the cost of interpretability. This lecture first defines interpretable machine learning in general and introduces the agglomerative contextual decomposition (ACD) method to interpret neural networks. Extending ACD to the scientifically meaningful frequency domain, an adaptive wavelet distillation (AWD) interpretation method is developed. AWD is shown to be both outperforming deep neural networks and interpretable in two prediction problems from cosmology and cell biology. Finally, a quality-controlled data science life cycle is advocated for building any model for trustworthy interpretation and introduce a Predictability Computability Stability (PCS) framework for such a data science life cycle.

    2:50–3:00 pmBreak
    3:00-4:00 pmHans-Georg MuellerTitle: Exploration of Random Objects with Depth Profiles and Fréchet Regression

    Abstract: Random objects, i.e., random variables that take values in a separable metric space, pose many challenges for statistical analysis, as vector operations are not available in general metric spaces. Examples include random variables that take values in the space of distributions, covariance matrices or surfaces, graph Laplacians to represent networks, trees and in other spaces. The increasing prevalence of samples of random objects has stimulated the development of metric statistics, an emerging collection of statistical tools to characterize, infer and relate samples of random objects. Recent developments include depth profiles, which are useful for the exploration of random objects. The depth profile for any given object is the distribution of distances to all other objects (with P. Dubey, Y. Chen 2022).

    These distributions can then be subjected to statistical analysis. Their mutual transports lead to notions of transport ranks, quantiles and centrality. Another useful tool is global or local Fréchet regression (with A. Petersen 2019) where random objects are responses and scalars or vectors are predictors and one aims at modeling conditional Fréchet means. Recent theoretical advances for local Fréchet regression provide a basis for object time warping (with Y. Chen 2022). These approaches are illustrated with distributional and other data.

    4:00-4:10 pmBreak
    4:10-5:10 pmStefanie JegelkaTitle: Some benefits of machine learning with invariances

    Abstract: In many applications, especially in the sciences, data and tasks have known invariances. Encoding such invariances directly into a machine learning model can improve learning outcomes, while it also poses challenges on efficient model design. In the first part of the talk, we will focus on the invariances relevant to eigenvectors and eigenspaces being inputs to a neural network. Such inputs are important, for instance, for graph representation learning. We will discuss targeted architectures that can universally express functions with the relevant invariances – sign flips and changes of basis – and their theoretical and empirical benefits.

    Second, we will take a broader, theoretical perspective. Empirically, it is known that encoding invariances into the machine learning model can reduce sample complexity. For the simplified setting of kernel ridge regression or random features, we will discuss new bounds that illustrate two ways in which invariances can reduce sample complexity. Our results hold for learning on manifolds and for invariances to (almost) any group action, and use tools from differential geometry.

    This is joint work with Derek Lim, Joshua Robinson, Behrooz Tahmasebi, Lingxiao Zhao, Tess Smidt, Suvrit Sra, and Haggai Maron.




    Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 (Eastern Time)

    8:30-9:00 amBreakfast
    Morning Session Chair: Zhigang Yao
    9:00-10:00 amCharles Fefferman*Title: Lipschitz Selection on Metric Spaces

    Abstract: The talk concerns the problem of finding a Lipschitz map F from a given metric space X into R^D, subject to the constraint that F(x) must lie in a given compact convex “target” K(x) for each point x in X. Joint work with Pavel Shvartsman and with Bernat Guillen Pegueroles.

    10:00-10:10 amBreak
    10:10-11:10 amDavid DunsonTitle: Inferring manifolds from noisy data using Gaussian processes

    Abstract: In analyzing complex datasets, it is often of interest to infer lower dimensional structure underlying the higher dimensional observations. As a flexible class of nonlinear structures, it is common to focus on Riemannian manifolds. Most existing manifold learning algorithms replace the original data with lower dimensional coordinates without providing an estimate of the manifold in the observation space or using the manifold to denoise the original data. This article proposes a new methodology for addressing these problems, allowing interpolation of the estimated manifold between fitted data points. The proposed approach is motivated by novel theoretical properties of local covariance matrices constructed from noisy samples on a manifold. Our results enable us to turn a global manifold reconstruction problem into a local regression problem, allowing application of Gaussian processes for probabilistic manifold reconstruction. In addition to theory justifying the algorithm, we provide simulated and real data examples to illustrate the performance. Joint work with Nan Wu – see https://arxiv.org/abs/2110.07478

    11:10-11:20 amBreak
    11:20 am-12:20 pmWolfgang PolonikTitle: Inference in topological data analysis

    Abstract: Topological data analysis has seen a huge increase in popularity finding applications in numerous scientific fields. This motivates the importance of developing a deeper understanding of benefits and limitations of such methods. Using this angle, we will present and discuss some recent results on large sample inference in topological data analysis, including bootstrap for Betti numbers and the Euler characteristics process.

    12:20–1:50 pmLunch
    Afternoon Session Chair: Stephan Huckemann
    1:50-2:50 pmEzra MillerTitle: Geometric central limit theorems on non-smooth spaces

    Abstract: The central limit theorem (CLT) is commonly thought of as occurring on the real line, or in multivariate form on a real vector space. Motivated by statistical applications involving nonlinear data, such as angles or phylogenetic trees, the past twenty years have seen CLTs proved for Fréchet means on manifolds and on certain examples of singular spaces built from flat pieces glued together in combinatorial ways. These CLTs reduce to the linear case by tangent space approximation or by gluing. What should a CLT look like on general non-smooth spaces, where tangent spaces are not linear and no combinatorial gluing or flat pieces are available? Answering this question involves figuring out appropriate classes of spaces and measures, correct analogues of Gaussian random variables, and how the geometry of the space (think “curvature”) is reflected in the limiting distribution. This talk provides an overview of these answers, starting with a review of the usual linear CLT and its generalization to smooth manifolds, viewed through a lens that casts the singular CLT as a natural outgrowth, and concluding with how this investigation opens gateways to further advances in geometric probability, topology, and statistics. Joint work with Jonathan Mattingly and Do Tran.

    2:50-3:00 pmBreak
    3:00-4:00 pmLizhen LinTitle: Statistical foundations of deep generative models

    Abstract: Deep generative models are probabilistic generative models where the generator is parameterized by a deep neural network. They are popular models for modeling high-dimensional data such as texts, images and speeches, and have achieved impressive empirical success. Despite demonstrated success in empirical performance, theoretical understanding of such models is largely lacking. We investigate statistical properties of deep generative models from a nonparametric distribution estimation viewpoint. In the considered model, data are assumed to be observed in some high-dimensional ambient space but concentrate around some low-dimensional structure such as a lower-dimensional manifold structure. Estimating the distribution supported on this low-dimensional structure is challenging due to its singularity with respect to the Lebesgue measure in the ambient space. We obtain convergence rates with respect to the Wasserstein metric of distribution estimators based on two methods: a sieve MLE based on the perturbed data and a GAN type estimator. Such an analysis provides insights into i) how deep generative models can avoid the curse of dimensionality and outperform classical nonparametric estimates, and ii) how likelihood approaches work for singular distribution estimation, especially in adapting to the intrinsic geometry of the data.

    4:00-4:10 pmBreak
    4:10-5:10 pmConversation session




    Wednesday, March 1, 2023 (Eastern Time)

    8:30-9:00 amBreakfast
    Morning Session Chair: Ezra Miller
    9:00-10:00 amAmit Singer*Title: Heterogeneity analysis in cryo-EM by covariance estimation and manifold learning

    Abstract: In cryo-EM, the 3-D molecular structure needs to be determined from many noisy 2-D tomographic projection images of randomly oriented and positioned molecules. A key assumption in classical reconstruction procedures for cryo-EM is that the sample consists of identical molecules. However, many molecules of interest exist in more than one conformational state. These structural variations are of great interest to biologists, as they provide insight into the functioning of the molecule. Determining the structural variability from a set of cryo-EM images is known as the heterogeneity problem, widely recognized as one of the most challenging and important computational problem in the field. Due to high level of noise in cryo-EM images, heterogeneity studies typically involve hundreds of thousands of images, sometimes even a few millions. Covariance estimation is one of the earliest methods proposed for heterogeneity analysis in cryo-EM. It relies on computing the covariance of the conformations directly from projection images and extracting the optimal linear subspace of conformations through an eigendecomposition. Unfortunately, the standard formulation is plagued by the exorbitant cost of computing the N^3 x N^3 covariance matrix. In the first part of the talk, we present a new low-rank estimation method that requires computing only a small subset of the columns of the covariance while still providing an approximation for the entire matrix. This scheme allows us to estimate tens of principal components of real datasets in a few minutes at medium resolutions and under 30 minutes at high resolutions. In the second part of the talk, we discuss a manifold learning approach based on the graph Laplacian and the diffusion maps framework for learning the manifold of conformations. If time permits, we will also discuss the potential application of optimal transportation to heterogeneity analysis. Based on joint works with Joakim Andén, Marc Gilles, Amit Halevi, Eugene Katsevich, Joe Kileel, Amit Moscovich, and Nathan Zelesko.

    10:00-10:10 amBreak
    10:10-11:10 amIan DrydenTitle: Statistical shape analysis of molecule data

    Abstract: Molecular shape data arise in many applications, for example high dimension low sample size cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) data and large temporal sequences of peptides from molecular dynamics simulations. In both applications it is of interest to summarize the shape evolution of the molecules in a succinct, low-dimensional representation. However, Euclidean techniques such as principal components analysis (PCA) can be problematic as the data may lie far from in a flat manifold. Principal nested spheres gives a fundamentally different decomposition of data from the usual Euclidean subspace based PCA. Subspaces of successively lower dimension are fitted to the data in a backwards manner with the aim of retaining signal and dispensing with noise at each stage. We adapt the methodology to 3D sub-shape spaces and provide some practical fitting algorithms. The methodology is applied to cryo-EM data of a large sliding clamp multi-protein complex and to cluster analysis of peptides, where different states of the molecules can be identified. Further molecular modeling tasks include resolution matching, where coarse resolution models are back-mapped into high resolution (atomistic) structures. This is joint work with Kwang-Rae Kim, Charles Laughton and Huiling Le.

    11:10-11:20 amBreak
    11:20 am-12:20 pmTamara BroderickTitle: An Automatic Finite-Sample Robustness Metric: Can Dropping a Little Data Change Conclusions?

    Abstract: One hopes that data analyses will be used to make beneficial decisions regarding people’s health, finances, and well-being. But the data fed to an analysis may systematically differ from the data where these decisions are ultimately applied. For instance, suppose we analyze data in one country and conclude that microcredit is effective at alleviating poverty; based on this analysis, we decide to distribute microcredit in other locations and in future years. We might then ask: can we trust our conclusion to apply under new conditions? If we found that a very small percentage of the original data was instrumental in determining the original conclusion, we might not be confident in the stability of the conclusion under new conditions. So we propose a method to assess the sensitivity of data analyses to the removal of a very small fraction of the data set. Analyzing all possible data subsets of a certain size is computationally prohibitive, so we provide an approximation. We call our resulting method the Approximate Maximum Influence Perturbation. Our approximation is automatically computable, theoretically supported, and works for common estimators. We show that any non-robustness our method finds is conclusive. Empirics demonstrate that while some applications are robust, in others the sign of a treatment effect can be changed by dropping less than 0.1% of the data — even in simple models and even when standard errors are small.

     12:20-1:50 pmLunch
    Afternoon Session Chair: Ezra Miller
    1:50-2:50 pmNicolai Reshetikhin*Title: Random surfaces in exactly solvable models in statistical mechanics.

    Abstract: In the first part of the talk I will be an overview of a few models in statistical mechanics where a random variable is a geometric object such as a random surface or a random curve. The second part will be focused on the behavior of such random surfaces in the thermodynamic limit and on the formation of the so-called “limit shapes”.

    2:50-3:00 pmBreak
    3:00-4:00 pmSebastian KurtekTitle: Robust Persistent Homology Using Elastic Functional Data Analysis

    Abstract: Persistence landscapes are functional summaries of persistence diagrams designed to enable analysis of the diagrams using tools from functional data analysis. They comprise a collection of scalar functions such that birth and death times of topological features in persistence diagrams map to extrema of functions and intervals where they are non-zero. As a consequence, variation in persistence diagrams is encoded in both amplitude and phase components of persistence landscapes. Through functional data analysis of persistence landscapes, under an elastic Riemannian metric, we show how meaningful statistical summaries of persistence landscapes (e.g., mean, dominant directions of variation) can be obtained by decoupling their amplitude and phase variations. This decoupling is achieved via optimal alignment, with respect to the elastic metric, of the persistence landscapes. The estimated phase functions are tied to the resolution parameter that determines the filtration of simplicial complexes used to construct persistence diagrams. For a dataset obtained under geometric, scale and sampling variabilities, the phase function prescribes an optimal rate of increase of the resolution parameter for enhancing the topological signal in a persistence diagram. The proposed approach adds to the statistical analysis of data objects with rich structure compared to past studies. In particular, we focus on two sets of data that have been analyzed in the past, brain artery trees and images of prostate cancer cells, and show that separation of amplitude and phase of persistence landscapes is beneficial in both settings. This is joint work with Dr. James Matuk (Duke University) and Dr. Karthik Bharath (University of Nottingham).

    4:00-4:10 pmBreak
    4:10-5:10 pmConversation session
    5:10-5:20 pmStephan Huckemann, Ezra Miller, Zhigang YaoClosing Remarks

    * Virtual Presentation


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    In 2021, the CMSA hosted a lecture series on the literature of the mathematical sciences. This series highlights significant accomplishments in the intersection between mathematics and the sciences. Speakers include Edward Witten, Lydia Bieri, Simon Donaldson, Michael Freedman, Dan Freed, and many more.

    Videos of these talks can be found in this Youtube playlist.


    In the Spring 2021 semester, the CMSA hosted a sub-program on this series titled A Memorial Conference for the founders of index theory: Atiyah, Bott, Hirzebruch and Singer. Below is the schedule for talks in that subprogram

    April 6, 2021 | 9:00 – 10:30am ET

    Edward Witten (IAS)

    TitleIsadore Singer’s Work on Analytic Torsion

    April 13, 2021 | 9:00 – 10:30am ET

    Claire Voisin (College de France)

    Title: K-theory and characteristic classes in topology and complex geometry  (a tribute to Atiyah and Hirzebruch)

    April 20, 2021 | 9:00 – 10:30am ET

    Dan Freed (the University of Texas at Austin)

    TitleThe Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem

    April 27, 2021 | 9:00 – 10:30am ET

    Frances Kirwan (University of Oxford)

    TitleMoment maps and the Yang-Mills functional

  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Justin Kulp (Perimeter Institute)

    Title: Holomorphic Twists and Confinement in N=1 SYM

    Abstract: Supersymmetric QFT’s are of long-standing interest for their high degree of solvability, phenomenological implications, and rich connections to mathematics. In my talk, I will describe how the holomorphic twist isolates the protected quantities which give SUSY QFTs their potency by restricting to the cohomology of one supercharge. I will briefly introduce infinite dimensional symmetry algebras, generalizing Virasoro and Kac-Moody symmetries, which emerge. Finally, I will explain a potential novel UV manifestation of confinement, dubbed “holomorphic confinement,” in the example of pure SU(N) super Yang-Mills. Based on arXiv:2207.14321 and 2 forthcoming works with Kasia Budzik, Davide Gaiotto, Brian Williams, Jingxiang Wu, and Matthew Yu.

  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Sungwoo Hong (U Chicago & KAIST)

    Title: Neutrino Masses from Generalized Symmetry Breaking

    Abstract: We explore generalized global symmetries in theories of physics beyond the Standard Model. Theories of Z′ bosons generically contain ‘non-invertible’ chiral symmetries, whose presence indicates a natural paradigm to break this symmetry by an exponentially small amount in an ultraviolet completion. For example, in models of gauged lepton family difference such as the phenomenologically well-motivated U(1)Lμ−Lτ, there is a non-invertible lepton number symmetry which protects neutrino masses. We embed these theories in gauged non-Abelian horizontal lepton symmetries, e.g. U(1)Lμ−Lτ⊂SU(3)H, where the generalized symmetries are broken nonperturbatively by the existence of lepton family magnetic monopoles. In such theories, either Majorana or Dirac neutrino masses may be generated through quantum gauge theory effects from the charged lepton Yukawas e.g. yν∼yτexp(−Sinst). These theories require no bevy of new fields nor ad hoc additional global symmetries, but are instead simple, natural, and predictive: the discovery of a lepton family Z′ at low energies will reveal the scale at which Lμ−Lτ emerges from a larger gauge symmetry.



  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Junkai Dong (Harvard University)

    Title: Exact Many-Body Ground States from Decomposition of Ideal Higher Chern Bands: Applications to Chirally Twisted Graphene Multilayers

    Abstract: Motivated by the higher Chern bands of twisted graphene multilayers, we consider flat bands with arbitrary Chern number C with ideal quantum geometry. While C>1 bands differ from Landau levels, we show that these bands host exact fractional Chern insulator (FCI) ground states for short range interactions. We show how to decompose ideal higher Chern bands into separate ideal bands with Chern number 1 that are intertwined through translation and rotation symmetry. The decomposed bands admit an SU(C) action that combines real space and momentum space translations. Remarkably, they also allow for analytic construction of exact many-body ground states, such as generalized quantum Hall ferromagnets and FCIs, including flavor-singlet Halperin states and Laughlin ferromagnets in the limit of short-range interactions. In this limit, the SU(C) action is promoted to a symmetry on the ground state subspace. While flavor singlet states are translation symmetric, the flavor ferromagnets correspond to translation broken states and admit charged skyrmion excitations corresponding to a spatially varying density wave pattern. We confirm our analytic predictions with numerical simulations of ideal bands of twisted chiral multilayers of graphene, and discuss consequences for experimentally accessible systems such as monolayer graphene twisted relative to a Bernal bilayer.



  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Peter Shor (MIT)

    TitleQuantum error correcting codes and fault tolerance

    Abstract: We will go over the fundamentals of quantum error correction and fault tolerance and survey some of the recent developments in the field.

    Talk chair: Zhengwei Liu


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Daniel A. Spielman

    Dan Spielman (Yale University)

    Title: Discrepancy Theory and Randomized Controlled Trials

    Abstract: Discrepancy theory tells us that it is possible to partition vectors into sets so that each set looks surprisingly similar to every other.  By “surprisingly similar” we mean much more similar than a random partition. I will begin by surveying fundamental results in discrepancy theory, including Spencer’s famous existence proofs and Bansal’s recent algorithmic realizations of them. Randomized Controlled Trials are used to test the effectiveness of interventions, like medical treatments. Randomization is used to ensure that the test and control groups are probably similar.  When we know nothing about the experimental subjects, uniform random assignment is the best we can do. When we know information about the experimental subjects, called covariates, we can combine the strengths of randomization with the promises of discrepancy theory. This should allow us to obtain more accurate estimates of the effectiveness of treatments, or to conduct trials with fewer experimental subjects. I will introduce the Gram-Schmidt Walk algorithm of Bansal, Dadush, Garg, and Lovett, which produces random solutions to discrepancy problems. I will then explain how Chris Harshaw, Fredrik Sävje, Peng Zhang, and I use this algorithm to improve the design of randomized controlled trials. Our Gram-Schmidt Walk Designs have increased accuracy when the experimental outcomes are correlated with linear functions of the covariates, and are comparable to uniform random assignments in the worst case.

    Talk chair: Salil Vadhan


  • Workshop
    9:00 am-3:30 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    Videos are available on the CMSA Youtube Playlist.

    On November 28 – Dec 1, 2022, the CMSA hosted a Workshop on Representation Theory, Calabi-Yau Manifolds, and Mirror Symmetry.

    Organizers: An Huang (Brandeis University) | Siu-Cheong Lau (Boston University) | Tsung-Ju Lee (CMSA, Harvard) | Andrew Linshaw (University of Denver)

    Scientific Advisor: Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard, Tsinghua)

    Location: Room G10, CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138

    Directions and Recommended Lodging

    The conference was held in hybrid format, both in-person and online.

    The workshop was partially supported by Simons and NSF Grant DMS-2227199.



    • Tomoyuki Arakawa (Kyoto)
    • Thomas Creutzig (Edmonton)
    • Jonathan Mboyo Esole (Northeastern)
    • Fei Han (National University of Singapore)
    • Shinobu Hosono (Gakushuin University)
    • Flor Orosz Hunziker (Colorado)
    • Cuipo Jiang (Shanghai)
    • Shashank Kanade (Denver)
    • Matt Kerr (Washington University in St. Louis)
    • Carl Lian (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
    • Nai-Chung Conan Leung (CUHK)
    • Ivan Loseu (Yale)
    • Robert McRae (Tsinghua University)
    • Anne Moreau (Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay)
    • Tony Pantev (University of Pennsylvania)
    • Mauricio Romo (Tsinghua University)
    • Bailin Song (USTC)
    • Cumrun Vafa (Harvard University)
    • Chin-Lung Wang (National Taiwan University)
    • Weiqiang Wang (Virginia)
    • Yaping Yang (University of Melbourne)
    • Shing-Tung Yau (Tsinghua University)
    • Chenglong Yu (Tsinghua University)
    • Gufang Zhao (University of Melbourne)


    Schedule (Eastern Time)

    Schedule (pdf)

    11/28 (Monday)

    08:30am – 08:55amRefreshments
    08:55am – 09:00amOpening remarks by Horng-Tzer Yau
    09:00am – 09:45amShing-Tung Yau*Title: The Hull-Strominger system through conifold transitions

    Abstract: In this talk I discuss the geometry of C-Y manifolds outside of the Kähler regime and especially describe the Hull-Strominger system through the conifold transitions.

    10:00am – 10:45amChenglong Yu*Title: Commensurabilities among Lattices in PU(1,n)

    Abstract: In joint work with Zhiwei Zheng, we study commensurabilities among certain subgroups in PU(1,n). Those groups arise from the monodromy of hypergeometric functions. Their discreteness and arithmeticity are classified by Deligne and Mostow. Thurston also obtained similar results via flat conic metrics. However, the classification of the lattices among them up to conjugation and finite index (commensurability) is not completed. When n=1, it is the commensurabilities of hyperbolic triangles. The cases of n=2 are almost resolved by Deligne-Mostow and Sauter’s commensurability pairs, and commensurability invariants by Kappes-Möller and McMullen. Our approach relies on the study of some higher dimensional Calabi-Yau type varieties instead of complex reflection groups. We obtain some relations and commensurability indices for higher n and also give new proofs for existing pairs in n=2.

    11:00am – 11:45amThomas Creutzig*Title: Shifted equivariant W-algebras

    Abstract: The CDO of a compact Lie group is a family of VOAs whose top level is the space of functions on the Lie group. Similar structures appear at the intersections of boundary conditions in 4-dimensional gauge theories, I will call these new families of VOAs shifted equivariant W-algebras. I will introduce these algebras, construct them and explain how they can be used to quickly prove the GKO-coset realization of principal W-algebras.

    11:45am – 1:30 pmLunch
    01:30pm – 02:15pmCumrun VafaTitle: Reflections on Mirror Symmetry

    Abstract: In this talk I review some of the motivations leading to the search and discovery of mirror symmetry as well as some of the applications it has had.

    02:30pm – 03:15pmJonathan Mboyo EsoleTitle: Algebraic topology and matter representations in F-theory

    Abstract: Recently, it was observed that representations appearing in geometric engineering in F-theory all satisfy a unique property: they correspond to characteristic representations of embedding of Dynkin index one between Lie algebras. However, the reason why that is the case is still being understood. In this talk, I will present new insights, giving a geometric explanation for this fact using K-theory and the topology of Lie groups and their classifying spaces. In physics, this will be interpreted as conditions on the charge of instantons and the classifications of Wess-Zumino-Witten terms.

    03:15pm – 03:45 pmBreak
    03:45pm – 04:30pmWeiqiang WangTitle: A Drinfeld presentation of affine i-quantum groups

    Abstract: A quantum symmetric pair of affine type (U, U^i) consists of a Drinfeld-Jimbo affine quantum group (a quantum deformation of a loop algebra) U and its coideal subalgebra U^i (called i-quantum group). A loop presentation for U was formulated by Drinfeld and proved by Beck. In this talk, we explain how i-quantum groups can be viewed as a generalization of quantum groups, and then we give a Drinfeld type presentation for the affine quasi-split i-quantum group U^i. This is based on joint work with Ming Lu (Sichuan) and Weinan Zhang (Virginia).

    04:45pm – 05:30pmTony PantevTitle: Decomposition, anomalies, and quantum symmetries

    Abstract: Decomposition is a phenomenon in quantum physics which converts quantum field theories with non-effectively acting gauge symmetries into equivalent more tractable theories in which the fields live on a disconnected space. I will explain the mathematical content of decomposition which turns out to be a higher categorical version of Pontryagin duality. I will examine how this duality interacts with quantum anomalies and secondary quantum symmetries and will show how the anomalies can be canceled by homotopy coherent actions of diagrams of groups. I will discuss in detail the case of 2-groupoids which plays a central role in anomaly cancellation, and will describe a new duality operation that yields decomposition in the presence of anomalies. The talk is based on joint works with Robbins, Sharpe, and Vandermeulen.


    11/29 (Tuesday)


    09:00am – 09:45amRobert MacRae*Title: Rationality for a large class of affine W-algebras

    Abstract: One of the most important results in vertex operator algebras is Huang’s theorem that the representation category of a “strongly rational” vertex operator algebra is a semisimple modular tensor category. Conversely, it has been conjectured that every (unitary) modular tensor category is the representation category of a strongly rational (unitary) vertex operator algebra. In this talk, I will describe my results on strong rationality for a large class of affine W-algebras at admissible levels. This yields a large family of modular tensor categories which generalize those associated to affine Lie algebras at positive integer levels, as well as those associated to the Virasoro algebra.

    10:00am – 10:45amBailin Song*Title: The global sections of chiral de Rham complexes on compact Calabi-Yau manifolds

    Abstract: Chiral de Rham complex is a sheaf of vertex algebras on a complex manifold. We will describe the space of global sections of the chiral de Rham complexes on compact Calabi-Yau manifolds.

    11:00am – 11:45amCarl Lian*Title: Curve-counting with fixed domain

    Abstract: The fixed-domain curve-counting problem asks for the number of pointed curves of fixed (general) complex structure in a target variety X subject to incidence conditions at the marked points. The question comes in two flavors: one can ask for a virtual count coming from Gromov-Witten theory, in which case the answer can be computed (in principle) from the quantum cohomology of X, or one can ask for the “honest” geometric count, which tends to be more subtle. The answers are conjectured to agree in the presence of sufficient positivity, but do not always. I will give an overview of some recent results and open directions. Some of this work is joint with Alessio Cela, Gavril Farkas, and Rahul Pandharipande.

    11:45am – 01:30pmLunch
    01:30pm – 02:15pmChin-Lung WangTitle: A blowup formula in quantum cohomology

    Abstract: We study analytic continuations of quantum cohomology $QH(Y)$ under a blowup $\phi: Y \to X$ of complex projective manifolds along the extremal ray variable $q^{\ell}$. Under $H(Y) = \phi^* H(X) plus K$ where $K = \ker \phi_*$, we show that (i) the restriction of quantum product along the $\phi^*H(X)$ direction, denoted by $QH(Y)_X$, is meromorphic in $x := 1/q^\ell$, (ii) $K$ deforms uniquely to a quantum ideal $\widetilde K$ in $QH(Y)_X$, (iii) the quotient ring $QH(Y)_X/\widetilde K$ is regular over $x$, and its restriction to $x = 0$ is isomorphic to $QH(X)$. This is a joint work (in progress) with Y.-P. Lee and H.-W. Lin.

    02:30pm – 03:15pmIvan LoseuTitle: Quantizations of nilpotent orbits and their Lagrangian subvarieties

    Abstract: I’ll report on some recent progress on classifying quantizations of the algebras of regular functions of nilpotent orbits (and their covers) in semisimple Lie algebras, as well as the classification of quantizations of certain Lagrangian subvarieties. An ultimate goal here is to understand the classification of unitary representations of real semisimple Lie groups.

    03:15pm – 03:45pmBreak
    03:45pm – 04:30pmMatt Kerr*Title: $K_2$ and quantum curves

    Abstract: The basic objects for this talk are motives consisting of a curve together with a $K_2$ class, and their mixed Hodge-theoretic invariants.

    My main objective will be to explain a connection (recently proved in joint work with C. Doran and S. Sinha Babu) between (i) Hodge-theoretically distinguished points in the moduli of such motives and (ii) eigenvalues of operators on L^2(R) obtained by quantizing the equations of the curves.

    By local mirror symmetry, this gives evidence for a conjecture in topological string theory (due to M. Marino, A. Grassi, and others) relating enumerative invariants of toric CY 3-folds to spectra of quantum curves.

    04:45pm – 05:30pmFlor Orosz HunzikerTitle: Tensor structures associated to the N=1 super Virasoro algebra

    Abstract:  We have recently shown that there is a natural category of representations associated to the N=1 super Virasoro vertex operator algebras that have braided tensor structure. We will describe this category and discuss the problem of establishing its rigidity at particular central charges. This talk is based on joint work in progress with Thomas Creutzig, Robert McRae and Jinwei Yang.




    11/30 (Wednesday)

    08:30am – 09:00amRefreshments
    09:00am – 09:45amTomoyuki ArakawaTitle: 4D/2D duality and representation theory

    Abstract: This talk is about the 4D/2D duality discovered by Beem et al. rather recently in physics. It associates a vertex operator algebra (VOA) to any 4-dimensional superconformal field theory, which is expected to be a complete invariant of thl theory. The VOAs appearing in this manner may be regarded as chiralization of various symplectic singularities and their representations are expected to be closely related with the Coulomb branch of the 4D theory. I will talk about this remarkable 4D/2D duality from a representation theoretic perspective.

    10:00am – 10:45amShashank KanadeTitle: Combinatorics of principal W-algebras of type A

    Abstract: The combinatorics of principal W_r(p,p’) algebras of type A is controlled by cylindric partitions. However, very little seems to be known in general about fermionic expressions for the corresponding characters. Welsh’s work explains the case of Virasoro minimal models W_2(p,p’). Andrews, Schilling and Warnaar invented and used an A_2 version of the usual (A_1) Bailey machinery to give fermionic characters (up to a factor of (q)_\infty) of some, but not all, W_3(3,p’) modules. In a recent joint work with Russell, we have given a complete set of conjectures encompassing all of the remaining modules for W_3(3,p’), and proved our conjectures for small values of p’. In another direction, characters of W_r(p,p’) algebras also arise as appropriate limits of certain sl_r coloured Jones invariants of torus knots T(p,p’), and we expect this to provide further insights on the underlying combinatorics.

    11:00am – 11:45amGufang ZhaoTitle: Quasimaps to quivers with potentials

    Abstract: This talk concerns non-compact GIT quotient of a vector space, in the presence of an abelian group action and an equivariant regular function (potential) on the quotient. We define virtual counts of quasimaps from prestable curves to the critical locus of the potential. The construction borrows ideas from the theory of gauged linear sigma models as well as recent development in shifted symplectic geometry and Donaldson-Thomas theory of Calabi-Yau 4-folds. Examples of virtual counts arising from quivers with potentials are discussed. This is based on work in progress, in collaboration with Yalong Cao.

    11:45am – 01:30pmGroup Photo, Lunch
    01:30pm – 02:15pmYaping YangTitle: Cohomological Hall algebras and perverse coherent sheaves on toric Calabi-Yau 3-folds

    Abstract: Let X be a smooth local toric Calabi-Yau 3-fold. On the cohomology of the moduli spaces of certain sheaves on X, there is an action of the cohomological Hall algebra (COHA) of Kontsevich and Soibelman via “raising operators”. I will discuss the “double” of the COHA that acts on the cohomology of the moduli space by adding the “lowering operators”. We associate a root system to X. The double COHA is expected to be the shifted Yangian of this root system. We also give a prediction for the shift in terms of an intersection pairing. We provide evidence of the aforementioned expectation in various examples. This is based on my joint work with M. Rapcak, Y. Soibelman, and G. Zhao

    02:30pm – 03:15pmFei HanTitle: Graded T-duality with H-flux for 2d sigma models

    Abstract: T-duality in string theory can be realised as a transformation acting on the worldsheet fields in the two-dimensional nonlinear sigma model. Bouwknegt-Evslin-Mathai established the T-duality in a background flux for the first time upon compactifying spacetime in one direction to a principal circle by constructing the T-dual maps transforming the twisted cohomology of the dual spacetimes. In this talk, we will describe our recent work on how to promote the T-duality maps of Bouwknegt-Evslin-Mathai in two aspects. More precisely, we will introduce (1) graded T-duality, concerning the graded T-duality maps of all levels of twistings; (2) the 2-dimensional sigma model picture, concerning the double loop space of spacetimes. This represents our joint work with Mathai.

    03:15pm – 3:45pmBreak
    03:45pm – 04:30pmMauricio RomoTitle: Networks and BPS Counting: A-branes view point

    Abstract: I will review the countings of BPS invariants via exponential/spectral networks and present an interpretation of this counting as a count of certain points in the moduli space of A-branes corresponding to degenerate Lagrangians.

    04:45pm – 05:30pmShinobu HosonoTitle: Mirror symmetry of abelian fibered Calabi-Yau manifolds with ρ = 2

    Abstract: I will describe mirror symmetry of Calabi-Yau manifolds fibered by (1,8)-polarized abelian surfaces, which have Picard number two. Finding a mirror family over a toric variety explicitly, I  observe that mirror symmetry of all related Calabi-Yau manifods arises from the corresponding boundary points, which are not necessarily toric boundary points.  Calculating Gromov-Witten invariants up to genus 2, I find that the generating functions are expressed elliptic (quasi-)modular forms, which reminds us the modular anomaly equation found for elliptic surfaces. This talk is based on a published work with Hiromichi Takaki (arXiv:2103.08150).

    06:00pmBanquet @ Royal East Restaurant, 782 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139


    12/1 (Thursday)

    08:30am – 09:00amRefreshments
    09:00am – 09:45amConan Nai Chung Leung*Title: Quantization of Kahler manifolds

    Abstract: I will explain my recent work on relationships among geometric quantization, deformation quantization, Berezin-Toeplitz quantization and brane quantization.

    10:00am – 10:45amCuipo Jiang*Title: Cohomological varieties associated to vertex operator algebras

    Abstract: We define and examine the cohomological variety of a vertex algebra, a notion cohomologically dual to that of the associated variety, which measures the smoothness of the associated scheme at the vertex point.  We study its basic properties. As examples, we construct a closed subvariety of the cohomological variety for rational affine vertex operator algebras constructed from finite dimensional simple Lie algebras. We also determine the cohomological varieties of the simple Virasoro vertex operator algebras. These examples indicate that, although the associated variety for a rational $C_2$-cofinite vertex operator algebra is always a simple point, the cohomological variety can have as large a dimension as possible. This talk is based on joint work with Antoine Caradot and Zongzhu Lin.

    11:00am – 11:45amAnne Moreau*Title: Action of the automorphism group on the Jacobian of Klein’s quartic curve

    Abstract: In a joint work with Dimitri Markouchevitch, we prove that the quotient variety of the 3-dimensional Jacobian of the plane Klein quartic curve by its full automorphism group of order 336 is isomorphic to the 3-dimensional weighted projective space with weights 1,2,4,7.

    The latter isomorphism is a particular case of the general conjecture of Bernstein and Schwarzman suggesting that a quotient of the n-dimensional complex space by the action of an irreducible complex crystallographic group generated by reflections is a weighted projective space.

    In this talk, I will explain this conjecture and the proof of our result. An important ingredient is the computation of the Hilbert function of the algebra of invariant theta-functions on the Jacobian.

    11:45am – 11:50amClosing remarks
    11:50amFree discussions and departure

    * = Online speaker

    CMSA COVID-19 Policies


  • Topological Quantum Matter Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Topological Seminar 11.23.22

    Topological Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Jian Kang, School of Physical Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai, China

    Title: Continuum field theory of graphene bilayer system

    Abstract: The Bistritzer-MacDonald (BM) model predicted the existence of the narrow bands in the magic-angle twisted bilayer graphene (MATBG), and nowadays is a starting point for most theoretical works. In this talk, I will briefly review the BM model and then present a continuum field theory [1] for graphene bilayer system allowing any smooth lattice deformation including the small twist angle. With the gradient expansion to the second order, the continuum theory for MATBG [2] produces the spectrum that almost perfectly matches the spectrum of the microscopic model, suggesting the validity of this theory. In the presence of the lattice deformation, the inclusion of the pseudo-vector potential does not destroy but shift the flat band chiral limit to a smaller twist angle. Furthermore, the continuum theory contains another important interlayer tunneling term that was overlooked in all previous works. This term non-negligibly breaks the particle-hole symmetry of the narrow bands and may be related with the experimentally observed particle-hole asymmetry.

    1. O. Vafek and JK, arXiv: 2208.05933.
    2. JK and O. Vafek, arXiv: 2208.05953.


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Edward Witten (IAS)

    TitleIsadore Singer’s Work on Analytic Torsion

    Abstract:  I will review two famous papers of Ray and Singer on analytic torsion written approximately half a century ago. Then I will sketch the influence of analytic torsion in a variety of areas of physics including anomalies, topological field theory, and string theory.

    This talk is part of a subprogram of the Mathematical Science Literature Lecture series, a Memorial Conference for the founders of index theory: Atiyah, Bott, Hirzebruch, and Singer.

    Talk chair: Cumrun Vafa

    Slides | Video

  • Topological Quantum Matter Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Topological Seminar 10.12.22

    Topological Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Jennifer Cano (Stony Brook and Flatiron Institute)

    Title: Engineering topological phases with a superlattice potential
    Abstract: We propose an externally imposed superlattice potential as a platform for manipulating topological phases, which has both advantages and disadvantages compared to a moire superlattice. In the first example, we apply the superlattice potential to the 2D surface of a 3D topological insulator. The superlattice potential creates tunable van Hove singularities, which, when combined with strong spin-orbit coupling and Coulomb repulsion give rise to a topological meron lattice spin texture. Thus, the superlattice potential provides a new route to the long sought-after goal of realizing spontaneous magnetic order on the surface of a 3D TI. In the second example, we show that a superlattice potential applied to Bernal-stacked bilayer graphene can generate flat Chern bands, similar to in twisted bilayer graphene, whose bandwidth can be as small as a few meV. The superlattice potential offers flexibility in both lattice size and geometry, making it a promising alternative to achieve designer flat bands without a moire heterostructure.
  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    4/15/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Strongly Correlated Quantum Materials and High-Temperature Superconductors

    Strongly Correlated Quantum Materials and High-Temperature Superconductors
    4/1/2021 Strongly Correlated Quantum Materials

    9:00 am-10:30 am
  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Liang Kong (Sustech)

    Title: Topological Wick Rotation and Holographic duality

    Abstract: I will explain a new type of holographic dualities between
    n+1D topological orders with a chosen boundary condition and nD
    (potentially gapless) quantum liquids. It is based on the idea of
    topological Wick rotation, a notion which was first used in
    arXiv:1705.01087 and was named, emphasized and generalized later in
    arXiv:1905.04924. Examples of these holographic dualities include the
    duality between 2+1D toric code model and 1+1D Ising chain and its
    finite-group generalizations (independently discovered by many
    others); those between 2+1D topological orders and 1+1D rational
    conformal field theories; and those between n+1D finite gauge theories
    with a gapped boundary and nD gapped quantum liquids. I will also
    briefly discuss some generalizations of this holographic duality and
    its relation to AdS/CFT duality.

  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Michele Del Zotto (Uppsala University)

    Title: On the six-dimensional origin of non-invertible symmetries

    Abstract: I will present a review about recent progress in charting non-invertible symmetries for four-dimensional quantum field theories that have a six-dimensional origin. These include in particular N=4 supersymmetric Yang-Mills theories, and also a large class of N=2 supersymmetric theories which are conformal and do not have a conventional Lagrangian description (the so-called theories of “class S”). Among the main results, I will explain criteria for identifying examples of systems with intrinsic and non-intrinsic non-invertible symmetries, as well as explore their higher dimensional origin. This seminar is based on joint works with Vladimir Bashmakov, Azeem Hasan, and Justin Kaidi.



  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 pm

    Maxim Kontsevich  (IHÉS)

    Title: On the History of quantum cohomology and homological mirror symmetry

    Abstract: About 30 years ago, string theorists made remarkable discoveries of hidden structures in algebraic geometry.  First, the usual cup-product on the cohomology of a complex projective variety admits a canonical multi-parameter deformation to so-called quantum product, satisfying a nice system of differential equations (WDVV equations).  The second discovery, even more striking,  is Mirror Symmetry, a duality between families of Calabi-Yau varieties acting as a mirror reflection on the Hodge diamond.

    Later it was realized that the quantum product belongs to the realm of symplectic geometry, and a half of mirror symmetry (called Homological Mirror Symmetry) is a duality between complex algebraic and symplectic varieties. The search of correct definitions and possible generalizations lead to great advances in many domains, giving mathematicians new glasses, through which they can see familiar objects in a completely new way.

    I will review the history of major mathematical advances in the subject of HMS, and the swirl of ideas around it.

    Talk chair: Paul Seidel


  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Ethan Lake (MIT)

    Title: Insulating BECs and other surprises in dipole-conserving systems

    Abstract: I will discuss recent work on bosonic models whose dynamics conserves both total charge and total dipole moment, a situation which can be engineered in strongly tilted optical lattices. Related models have received significant attention recently for their interesting out-of-equilibrium dynamics, but analytic and numeric studies reveal that they also possess rather unusual ground states. I will focus in particular on a dipole-conserving variant of the Bose-Hubbard model, which realizes an unusual phase of matter that possesses a Bose-Einstein condensate, but which is nevertheless insulating, and has zero superfluid weight. Time permitting, I will also describe the physics of a regime in which these models spontaneously fracture into an exotic type of glassy state.



  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: João Caetano (CERN)

    Title: Unorientable Quantum Field Theories: From crosscaps to holography

    Abstract: In two dimensions, one can study quantum field theories on unorientable manifolds by introducing crosscaps. This defines a class of states called crosscap states which share a few similarities with the notion of boundary states. In this talk, I will show that integrable theories remain integrable in the presence of crosscaps, and this allows to exactly determine the crosscap state.

    In four dimensions, the analog is to place the quantum field theory on the real projective space, the simplest unorientable 4-manifold. I will show how to do this in the example of N=4 Supersymmetric Yang-Mills, discuss its holographic description and present a new solvable setup of AdS/CFT.
  • Topological Quantum Matter Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Topological Seminar 10.26.22

    Topological Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Bruno Mera, Tohoku University
    Title: Kähler bands—Chern insulators, holomorphicity and induced quantum geometry
    Abstract: The notion of topological phases has dramatically changed our understanding of insulators. There is much to learn about a band insulator beyond the assertion that it has a gap separating the valence bands from the conduction bands. In the particular case of two dimensions, the occupied bands may have a nontrivial topological twist determining what is called a Chern insulator. This topological twist is not just a mathematical observation, it has observable consequences—the transverse Hall conductivity is quantized and proportional to the 1st Chern number of the vector bundle of occupied states over the Brillouin zone. Finer properties of band insulators refer not just to the topology, but also to their geometry. Of particular interest is the momentum-space quantum metric and the Berry curvature. The latter is the curvature of a connection on the vector bundle of occupied states. The study of the geometry of band insulators can also be used to probe whether the material may host stable fractional topological phases. In particular, for a Chern band to have an algebra of projected density operators which is isomorphic to the W∞ algebra found by Girvin, MacDonald and Platzman—the GMP algebra—in the context of the fractional quantum Hall effect, certain geometric constraints, associated with the holomorphic character of the Bloch wave functions, are naturally found and they enforce a compatibility relation between the quantum metric and the Berry curvature of the band. The Brillouin zone is then endowed with a Kähler structure which, in this case, is also translation-invariant (flat). Motivated by the above, we will provide an overview of the geometry of Chern insulators from the perspective of Kähler geometry, introducing the notion of a Kähler band which shares properties with the well-known ideal case of the lowest Landau level. Furthermore, we will provide a prescription, borrowing ideas from geometric quantization, to generate a flat Kähler band in some appropriate asymptotic limit. Such flat Kähler bands are potential candidates to host and realize fractional Chern insulating phases. Using geometric quantization arguments, we then provide a natural generalization of the theory to all even dimensions.
    [1] Tomoki Ozawa and Bruno Mera. Relations between topology and the quantum metric for Chern insulators. Phys. Rev. B, 104:045103, Jul 2021.
    [2] Bruno Mera and Tomoki Ozawa. Kähler geometry and Chern insulators: Relations between topology and the quantum metric. Phys. Rev. B, 104:045104, Jul 2021.
    [3] Bruno Mera and Tomoki Ozawa. Engineering geometrically flat Chern bands with Fubini-Study  Kähler structure. Phys. Rev. B, 104:115160, Sep 2021.
  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Kenji Fukaya (Simons Center for Geometry and Physics)

    Title: Homological (homotopical) algebra and moduli spaces in Topological Field theories

    Abstract: Moduli spaces of various gauge theory equations and of various versions of (pseudo) holomorphic curve equations have played important role in geometry in these 40 years. Started with Floer’s work people start to obtain more sophisticated object such as groups, rings, or categories from (system of) moduli spaces. I would like to survey some of those works and the methods to study family of moduli spaces systematically.

    Talk chair: Peter Kronheimer

    Slides | Video

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Don Zagier (Max Planck Institute for Mathematics and International Centre for Theoretical Physics)

    Title: Quantum topology and new types of modularity

    Abstract: The talk concerns two fundamental themes of modern 3-dimensional topology and their unexpected connection with a theme coming from number theory. A deep insight of William Thurston in the mid-1970s is that the vast majority of complements of knots in the 3-sphere, or more generally of 3-manifolds, have a unique metric structure as hyperbolic manifolds of constant curvature -1, so that 3-dimensional topology is in some sense not really a branch of topology at all, but of differential geometry. In a different direction, the work of Vaughan Jones and Ed Witten in the late 1980s gave rise to the field of Quantum Topology, in which new types of invariants of knot complements and 3-manifolds are introduced that have their origins in ideas coming from quantum field theory. These two themes then became linked by Kashaev’s famous Volume Conjecture, now some 25 years old, which says that the Kashaev invariant _N of a hyperbolic knot K (this is a quantum invariant defined for each positive integer N and whose values are algebraic numbers) grows exponentially as N tends to infinity with an exponent proportional to the hyperbolic volume of the knot complement. About 10 years ago, I was led by numerical experiments to the discovery that Kashaev’s invariant could be upgraded to an invariant having rational numbers as its argument (with the original invariant being the value at 1/N) and that the Volume Conjecture then became part of a bigger story saying that the new invariant has some sort of strange transformation property under the action x -> (ax+b)/(cx+d) of the modular group SL(2,Z) on the argument. This turned out to be only the beginning of a fascinating and multi-faceted story relating quantum invariants, q-series, modularity, and many other topics. In the talk, which is intended for a general mathematical audience, I would like to recount some parts of this story, which is joint work with Stavros Garoufalidis (and of course involving contributions from many other authors). The “new types of modularity” in the title refer to a specific byproduct of these investigations, namely that there is a generalization of the classical notion of holomorphic modular form – which plays an absolutely central role in modern number theory – to a new class of holomorphic functions in the upper half-plane that no longer satisfy a transformation law under the action of the modular group, but a weaker extendability property instead. This new class, called “holomorphic quantum modular forms”, turns out to contain many other functions of a more number-theoretical nature as well as the original examples coming from quantum invariants.

    Talk chair: Mark Kisin


  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Federico Bonetti (Oxford)

    Title: Non-Invertible Symmetries from Holography and Branes

    Abstract:  The notion of global symmetry in quantum field theory (QFT) has witnessed dramatic generalizations in the past few years. One of the most exciting developments has been the identification of 4d QFTs possessing non-invertible symmetries, i.e. global symmetries whose generators exhibit fusion rules that are not group-like. In this talk, I will discuss realizations of non-invertible symmetries in string theory and holography. As a concrete case study, I will consider the Klebanov-Strassler setup for holographic confinement in Type IIB string theory. The global symmetries of the holographic 4d QFT (both invertible and non-invertible) can be accessed by studying the topological couplings of the low-energy effective action of the dual 5d supergravity theory. Moreover, non-invertible symmetry defects can be realized in terms of D-branes. The D-brane picture captures non-trivial aspects of the fusion of non-invertible symmetry defects, and of their action on extended operators of the 4d QFT.


  • Algebraic Geometry in String Theory Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Algebraic Geometry in String Theory 02.24.2023

    Algebraic Geometry in String Theory Seminar

    Speaker: Chao-Ming Lin (University of California, Irvine)

    Title: On the convexity of general inverse $\sigma_k$ equations and some applications

    Abstract: In this talk, I will show my recent work on general inverse $\sigma_k$ equations and the deformed Hermitian-Yang-Mills equation (hereinafter the dHYM equation). First, I will show my recent results. This result states that if a level set of a general inverse $\sigma_k$ equation (after translation if needed) is contained in the positive orthant, then this level set is convex. As an application, this result justifies the convexity of the Monge-Ampère equation, the J-equation, the dHYM equation, the special Lagrangian equation, etc. Second, I will introduce some semialgebraic sets and a special class of univariate polynomials and give a Positivstellensatz type result. These give a numerical criterion to verify whether the level set will be contained in the positive orthant. Last, as an application, I will prove one of the conjectures by Collins-Jacob-Yau when the dimension equals four. This conjecture states that under the supercritical phase assumption, if there exists a C-subsolution to the dHYM equation, then the dHYM equation is solvable.

  • CMSA EVENT: Big Data Conference 2022
    9:00 am-1:00 pm
    Big Data 2022_web

    On August 26, 2022 the CMSA hosted our eighth annual Conference on Big Data. The Big Data Conference features speakers from the Harvard community as well as scholars from across the globe, with talks focusing on computer science, statistics, math and physics, and economics.

    The 2022 Big Data Conference took place virtually on Zoom.


    • Scott Duke Kominers, MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor, Harvard Business
    • Horng-Tzer Yau, Professor of Mathematics, Harvard University
    • Sergiy Verstyuk, CMSA, Harvard University



    9:00 amConference OrganizersIntroduction and Welcome
    9:10 am – 9:55 amXiaohong ChenTitle: On ANN optimal estimation and inference for policy functionals of nonparametric conditional moment restrictions

    Abstract:  Many causal/policy parameters of interest are expectation functionals of unknown infinite-dimensional structural functions identified via conditional moment restrictions. Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) can be viewed as nonlinear sieves that can approximate complex functions of high dimensional covariates more effectively than linear sieves. In this talk we present ANN optimal estimation and inference on  policy functionals, such as average elasticities or value functions, of unknown structural functions of endogenous covariates. We provide ANN efficient estimation and optimal t based confidence interval for regular policy functionals such as average derivatives in nonparametric instrumental variables regressions. We also present ANN quasi likelihood ratio based inference for possibly irregular policy functionals of general nonparametric conditional moment restrictions (such as quantile instrumental variables models or Bellman equations) for time series data. We conduct intensive Monte Carlo studies to investigate computational issues with ANN based optimal estimation and inference in economic structural models with endogeneity. For economic data sets that do not have very high signal to noise ratios, there are current gaps between theoretical advantage of ANN approximation theory vs inferential performance in finite samples.
    Some of the results are applied to efficient estimation and optimal inference for average price elasticity in consumer demand and BLP type demand.

    The talk is based on two co-authored papers:
    (1) Efficient Estimation of Average Derivatives in NPIV Models: Simulation Comparisons of Neural Network Estimators
    (Authors: Jiafeng Chen, Xiaohong Chen and Elie Tamer)

    (2) Neural network Inference on Nonparametric conditional moment restrictions with weakly dependent data
    (Authors: Xiaohong Chen, Yuan Liao and Weichen Wang).

    View/Download Lecture Slides (pdf)

    10:00 am – 10:45 amJessica JeffersTitle: Labor Reactions to Credit Deterioration: Evidence from LinkedIn Activity

    Abstract: We analyze worker reactions to their firms’ credit deterioration. Using weekly networking activity on LinkedIn, we show workers initiate more connections immediately following a negative credit event, even at firms far from bankruptcy. Our results suggest that workers are driven by concerns about both unemployment and future prospects at their firm. Heightened networking activity is associated with contemporaneous and future departures, especially at financially healthy firms. Other negative events like missed earnings and equity downgrades do not trigger similar reactions. Overall, our results indicate that the build-up of connections triggered by credit deterioration represents a source of fragility for firms.

    10:50 am – 11:35 amMiles CranmerTitle: Interpretable Machine Learning for Physics

    Abstract: Would Kepler have discovered his laws if machine learning had been around in 1609? Or would he have been satisfied with the accuracy of some black box regression model, leaving Newton without the inspiration to discover the law of gravitation? In this talk I will explore the compatibility of industry-oriented machine learning algorithms with discovery in the natural sciences. I will describe recent approaches developed with collaborators for addressing this, based on a strategy of “translating” neural networks into symbolic models via evolutionary algorithms. I will discuss the inner workings of the open-source symbolic regression library PySR (github.com/MilesCranmer/PySR), which forms a central part of this interpretable learning toolkit. Finally, I will present examples of how these methods have been used in the past two years in scientific discovery, and outline some current efforts.

    View/Download Lecture Slides (pdf) 

    11:40 am – 12:25 pmDan RobertsTitle: A Statistical Model of Neural Scaling Laws

    Abstract: Large language models of a huge number of parameters and trained on near internet-sized number of tokens have been empirically shown to obey “neural scaling laws” for which their performance behaves predictably as a power law in either parameters or dataset size until bottlenecked by the other resource. To understand this better, we first identify the necessary properties allowing such scaling laws to arise and then propose a statistical model — a joint generative data model and random feature model — that captures this neural scaling phenomenology. By solving this model using tools from random matrix theory, we gain insight into (i) the statistical structure of datasets and tasks that lead to scaling laws (ii) how nonlinear feature maps, i.e the role played by the deep neural network, enable scaling laws when trained on these datasets, and (iii) how such scaling laws can break down, and what their behavior is when they do. A key feature is the manner in which the power laws that occur in the statistics of natural datasets are translated into power law scalings of the test loss, and how the finite extent of such power laws leads to both bottlenecks and breakdowns.

    View/Download Lecture Slides (pdf)


    12:30 pmConference OrganizersClosing Remarks


    Information about last year’s conference can be found here.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: The establishment of neural circuitry during early infancy is critical for developing visual, auditory, and motor functions. However, how cortical tissue develops postnatally is largely unknown. By combining T1 relaxation time from quantitative MRI and mean diffusivity (MD) from diffusion MRI, we tracked cortical tissue development in infants across three timepoints (newborn, 3 months, and 6 months). Lower T1 and MD indicate higher microstructural tissue density and more developed cortex. Our data reveal three main findings: First, primary sensory-motor areas (V1: visual, A1: auditory, S1: somatosensory, M1: motor) have lower Tand MD at birth than higher-level cortical areas. However, all primary areas show significant reductions in Tand MD in the first six months of life, illustrating profound tissue growth after birth. Second, significant reductions in Tand MD from newborns to 6-month-olds occur in all visual areas of the ventral and dorsal visual streams. Strikingly, this development was heterogenous across the visual hierarchies: Earlier areas are more developed with denser tissue at birth than higher-order areas, but higher-order areas had faster rates of development. Finally, analysis of transcriptomic gene data that compares gene expression in postnatal vs. prenatal tissue samples showed strong postnatal expression of genes associated with myelination, synaptic signaling, and dendritic processes. Our results indicate that these cellular processes may contribute to profound postnatal tissue growth in sensory cortices observed in our in-vivo measurements. We propose a novel principle of postnatal maturation of sensory systems: development of cortical tissue proceeds in a hierarchical manner, enabling the lower-level areas to develop first to provide scaffolding for higher-order areas, which begin to develop more rapidly following birth to perform complex computations for vision and audition.

    This work is published here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-021-02706-w

  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series

    Math Science Literature Lecture Series Event
    CMSA/Tsinghua Math-Science Literature Lecture: Cameron Gordon

    9:00 am-10:30 am
    Virtual and in 20 Garden Street, Room G10

    CMSA/Tsinghua Math-Science Literature Lecture

    Prof. Cameron Gordon will present a lecture in the CMSA/Tsinghua Math-Science Literature Lecture Series.

    Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2024

    Time: 9:00–10:30 am ET

    Location: Room G10, CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA and via Zoom Webinar

    Directions to CMSA

    Registration is required.

    Title: The Unknotting Number of a Knot

    Abstract: One of the oldest and most natural knot invariants is the unknotting number, which is the minimum number of times a knot must be allowed to pass through itself in order to unknot it. Although this invariant was discussed by Tait almost 150 years ago, it is still poorly understood. For instance it is not known if it is algorithmically computable, and indeed there is an 8-crossing knot whose unknotting number is unknown. Nevertheless, the many developments in knot theory since Tait have led to some understanding of unknotting number, for example through its connection with 4-dimensional topology. We will give a historical account of this progress, and discuss some of the questions that are still open.


    Beginning in Spring 2020, the CMSA began hosting a lecture series on literature in the mathematical sciences, with a focus on significant developments in mathematics that have influenced the discipline, and the lifetime accomplishments of significant scholars.


    CMSA COVID-19 Policies

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    CMSA Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Speaker: Sumit Sinha, Harvard University

    Title: Statistical Mechanical theory for spatio-temporal evolution of Intra-tumor heterogeneity in cancers: Analysis of Multiregion sequencing data (https://arxiv.org/abs/2202.10595)

    Abstract: Variations in characteristics from one region (sub-population) to another are commonly observed in complex systems, such as glasses and a collection of cells. Such variations are manifestations of heterogeneity, whose spatial and temporal behavior is hard to describe theoretically. In the context of cancer, intra-tumor heterogeneity (ITH), characterized by cells with genetic and phenotypic variability that co-exist within a single tumor, is often the cause of ineffective therapy and recurrence of cancer. Next-generation sequencing, obtained by sampling multiple regions of a single tumor (multi-region sequencing, M-Seq), has vividly demonstrated the pervasive nature of ITH, raising the need for a theory that accounts for evolution of tumor heterogeneity. Here, we develop a statistical mechanical theory to quantify ITH, using the Hamming distance, between genetic mutations in distinct regions within a single tumor. An analytic expression for ITH, expressed in terms of cell division probability (α) and mutation probability (p), is validated using cellular-automaton type simulations. Application of the theory successfully captures ITH extracted from M-seq data in patients with exogenous cancers (melanoma and lung). The theory, based on punctuated evolution at the early stages of the tumor followed by neutral evolution, is accurate provided the spatial variation in the tumor mutation burden is not large. We show that there are substantial variations in ITH in distinct regions of a single solid tumor, which supports the notion that distinct subclones could co-exist. The simulations show that there are substantial variations in the sub-populations, with the ITH increasing as the distance between the regions increases. The analytical and simulation framework developed here could be used in the quantitative analyses of the experimental (M-Seq) data. More broadly, our theory is likely to be useful in analyzing dynamic heterogeneity in complex systems such as supercooled liquids.

    Bio: I am a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard SEAS (Applied Mathematics) and Dana Farber Cancer Institute (Data Science) beginning Feb 2022. I finished my PhD in Physics (Theoretical Biophysics) from UT Austin (Jan 2022) on “Theoretical and computational studies of growing tissue”.  I pursued my undergraduate degree in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in India (2015). Boradly, I am interested in developing theoretical models, inspired from many-body statistical physics, for biological processes at different length and time scales.


  • CMSA EVENT: Advances in Mathematical Physics
    9:00 am-1:45 pm
    1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

    A Conference in Honor of Elliott H. Lieb on his 90th Birthday

    On July 30 – Aug 1, 2022 the Harvard Mathematics Department and the CMSA co-hosted a birthday conference in honor of Elliott Lieb.

    This meeting highlights Elliott’s vast contribution to math and physics. Additionally, this meeting features Prof. Lieb’s more recent impact in strong subadditivity of entropy and integrable systems (ice model, Temperley-Lieb algebra etc.).


    July 30–31, 2022: Hall B, Science Center, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138
    August 1, 2022: Hall C, Science Center, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138

    Schedule (pdf)

    Michael Aizenman, Princeton University
    Joel Lebowitz, Rutgers University
    Ruedi Seiler, Technische Universität Berlin
    Herbert Spohn, Technical University of Munich
    Horng-Tzer Yau, Harvard University
    Shing-Tung Yau, Harvard University
    Jakob Yngvason, University of Vienna

    Rafael Benguria, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
    Eric Carlen, Rutgers University
    Philippe Di Francesco, University of Illinois
    Hugo Duminil-Copin, IHES
    László Erdös, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
    Rupert Frank, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
    Jürg Fröhlich, ETH Zurich
    Alessandro Giuliani, Università degli Studi Roma Tre
    Bertrand Halperin, Harvard University
    Klaus Hepp, Institute for Theoretical Physics, ETH Zurich
    Sabine Jansen, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
    Mathieu Lewin, Université Paris-Dauphine
    Bruno Nachtergaele, The University of California, Davis
    Yoshiko Ogata, University of Tokyo
    Ron Peled, Tel Aviv University
    Benjamin Schlein, University of Zurich
    Robert Seiringer, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
    Jan Philip Solovej, University of Copenhagen
    Hal Tasaki, Gakushuin University
    Simone Warzel, Technical University of Munich
    Jun Yin, The University of California, Los Angeles



  • Workshop
    9:00 am-5:00 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    Phase Transitions_Poster

    On August 2–5, the CMSA hosted a workshop on Phase Transitions and Topological Defects in the Early Universe.

    The workshop was held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA and online via Zoom webinar.

    The next decade will see a wealth of new cosmological data, which can lead to new insights into fundamental physics. Upcoming facilities (such as LISA) will be able to probe signals of fascinating phenomena in the early universe. These include signals from “Phase Transitions and Topological Defects,” which are ubiquitously given rise to in well-motivated UV models. In-depth studies of such signals requires cross-talks between experts from a wide spectrum of fields.

    The workshop aims to provide a platform for efficient exchange of new ideas related to these topics. It will start with an overview of some of the past and future experimental efforts. Next, there will be a substantial number of talks probing different aspects of phenomenology of phase transitions and topological defects in the early universe. It will finally close with discussions on recent formal development in the field.

    Scientific Advisory: Julian B. Muñoz, Lisa Randall, Matthew Reece, Tracy Slatyer, Shing-Tung Yau

    Harvard: Nick DePorzio, Katie Fraser, Sam Homiller, Rashmish Mishra, & Aditya Parikh
    MIT: Pouya Asadi, Marianne Moore, & Yitian Sun

    There will be 20+ 10 minute talks, ample discussion time, and lightning chalkboard talks.


    • Nancy Aggarwal (Northwestern)
    • Jae Hyeok Chang (UMD – JHU)
    • Yanou Cui (UC Riverside)
    • David Dunsky (UC Berkeley)
    • Isabel Garcia-Garcia (KITP – UCSB)
    • Oliver Gould (Nottingham)
    • Yann Gouttenoire (Tel Aviv)
    • Eleanor Hall (UC Berkeley)
    • Sungwoo Hong (Chicago)
    • Anson Hook (UMD)
    • Jessica Howard (UC Irvine)
    • Seth Koren (Chicago)
    • Mrunal Korwar (Wisconsin)
    • Soubhik Kumar (UC Berkeley)
    • Vuk Mandic (Minnesota)
    • Yuto Minami (Osaka)
    • Michael Nee (Oxford)
    • Kai Schmitz (CERN)
    • Stephen R. Taylor (Vanderbilt)
    • Ofri Telem (UC Berkeley)
    • Juven Wang (Harvard)
    • Yikun Wang (Caltech)


    • Manuel Buen Abad (UMD)
    • Pouya Asadi (MIT)
    • Sean Benevedes (MIT)
    • Sandipan Bhattacherjee (Birla Institute of Technology Mesra Ranchi India)
    • Xingang Chen (Harvard University)
    • Nicholas DePorzio (Harvard University)
    • Peizhi Du (Stony Brook University)
    • Nicolas Fernandez (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
    • Joshua Foster (MIT)
    • Katherine Fraser (Harvard University)
    • Sarah Geller (MIT)
    • Aurora Ireland (University of Chicago)
    • Marius Kongsore (New York University)
    • Ho Tat Lam (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    • Lingfeng Li (Brown University)
    • Yingying Li (Fermilab)
    • Gustavo Marques-Tavares (UMD)
    • Rashmish Mishra (Harvard University)
    • Siddharth Mishra-Sharma (MIT/Harvard University)
    • Toby Opferkuch (UC Berkeley)
    • Tong Ou (University of Chicago)
    • Aditya Parikh (Harvard University)
    • Yitian Sun (MIT)
    • Juan Sebastian Valbuena-Bermudez (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and Max Planck Institute for Physics)
    • Isaac Wang (Rutgers)
    • Wei Xue (University of Florida)
    • Winston Yin (UC Berkeley)
    • Quratulain Zahoor (The Islamia University of Bahwalpur Punjab (Pakistan)


    Tuesday, August 2, 2022

    9:00–9:20 amBreakfast
    9:20–9:30 amRashmish MishraOpening Remarks
    9:30–10:00 amVuk MandicTitle: Searching for the Stochastic Gravitational Wave Background with LISA

    Abstract: The upcoming space-borne gravitational wave detector Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will open a window into the milliHertz band of the gravitational wave spectrum. Among the many sources in this band is the stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB), arising as an incoherent superposition of many uncorrelated gravitational wave sources. The SGWB could be of cosmological origin, carrying unique information about the physical processes that took place within the first minute after the big bang, including possible phase transitions and topological defects. LISA therefore has the potential to illuminate particle physics at very high energy scales that may be inaccessible in laboratories. I will discuss how LISA can be used to search for the SGWB, highlighting a new pipeline developed for this purpose as well as several challenges and limitations that such a search will encounter.

    10:00–10:30 amNancy AggarwalTitle: Gravitational waves at frequencies above 10 kHz

    Abstract: Gravitational waves (GWs) at frequencies higher than the LIGO band can bring us completely new information about the universe. Besides being the most-interesting frequency region for looking at cosmological phenomena, they can also convey signatures of ultralight bosons through blackhole superradiance and light primordial blackholes (PBHs). I will introduce a new global initiative to study GW sources and detectors at ultra-high-frequencies (MHz-GHz), as well as a new experiment at Northwestern University to look for GWs in the frequency band of 10 kHz to 300 kHz using levitated optomechanical sensors. I will summarize the design, the current experimental progress, as well as a path forward for future improvements.

    10:30–11:00 amYuto MinamiTitle: New measurements of the cosmic birefringence

    Abstract: Polarised light of the cosmic microwave background, the remnant light of the Big Bang, is sensitive to parity-violating physics, cosmic birefringence. In this presentation I report on a new measurement of cosmic birefringence from polarisation data of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Planck satellite released in 2018. The statistical significance of the measured signal is 2.4 sigma. Recently, we found a signal with 3.3 sigma statistical significance when we use the latest Planck data and consider an effect of polarised foreground emission. If confirmed with higher statistical significance in future, it would have important implications for the elusive nature of dark matter and dark energy.

    11:00–1:30 pmBreak
    1:30–3:00 pmLighting Talks 1Lingfeng Li
    Winston Yin
    Marius Kongsore
    Nick DePorzio
    3:00–3:30 pmJae Hyeok ChangTitle: Correlating gravitational wave and gamma-ray signals from primordial black holes

    Abstract: Asteroid-mass primordial black holes (PBHs) can explain the observed dark matter abundance while being consistent with the current indirect detection constraints. These PBHs can produce gamma-ray signals from Hawking radiation that are within the sensitivity of future measurements by the AMEGO and e-ASTROGAM experiments. PBHs which give rise to such observable gamma-ray signals have a cosmic origin from large primordial curvature fluctuations. There must then be a companion, stochastic gravitational wave (GW) background produced by the same curvature fluctuations. I will demonstrate that the resulting GW signals will be well within the sensitivity of future detectors such as LISA, DECIGO, BBO, and the Einstein Telescope. The multimessenger signal from the observed gamma-rays and GWs will allow a precise measurement of the primordial curvature perturbation that produces the PBH. I will also argue that the resulting correlation between the two types of observations can provide a smoking-gun signal of PBHs.

    3:30–4:00 pmAnson Hook
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Early Universe Cosmology from Stochastic Gravitational Waves

    Abstract:  The causal tail of stochastic gravitational waves can be used to probe the energy density in free streaming relativistic species as well as measure gstar and beta functions as a function of temperature. In the event of the discovery of loud stochastic gravitational waves, we demonstrate that LISA can measure the free streaming fraction of the universe down to the 10^-3 level, 100 times more sensitive than current constraints. Additionally, it would be sensitive to O(1) deviations of gstar and the QCD beta function from their Standard Model value at temperatures ~ 10^5 GeV. In this case, many motivated models such as split SUSY and other solutions to the Electroweak Hierarchy problem would be tested. Future detectors, such as DECIGO, would be 100 times more sensitive than LISA to these effects and be capable of testing other motivated scenarios such as WIMPs and axions. The amazing prospect of using precision gravitational wave measurements to test such well motivated theories provides a benchmark to aim for when developing a precise understanding of the gravitational wave spectrum both experimentally and theoretically.


    Wednesday, August 3, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfast
    9:30–10:00 amKai Schmitz
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Gravitational waves from metastable cosmic strings

    Abstract: Cosmic strings are predicted by many Standard Model extensions involving the cosmological breaking of an Abelian symmetry and represent a potential source of primordial gravitational waves (GWs). In many Grand Unified Theories (GUTs), cosmic strings especially turn out to be metastable, as the nucleation of GUT monopoles along strings after a finite lifetime eventually leads to the collapse of the entire string network. In this talk, I will discuss the theoretical description of such a network and its individual components as well as the consequences for the emitted GW spectrum. Remarkably, the GW signal from metastable strings may well explain the common-spectrum process recently observed in pulsar timing data, while at the same time and in contrast to stable cosmic strings predicting a signal at higher frequencies that is still within the reach of current-generation ground-based interferometers. On their way to design sensitivity, existing GW experiments will thus have a realistic chance to probe particle physics processes at energies close to the GUT scale via the observation of GWs from metastable strings. This talk is based on 2107.04578 in collaboration with Wilfried Buchmüller and Valerie Domcke.

    10:00–10:30 amOliver Gould
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Effective field theory for cosmological phase transitions

    Abstract: Phase transitions are driven by thermal loop fluctuations, which modify background fields at leading order. This breaks the loop expansion and leads to large theoretical uncertainties in typical calculations, especially for gravitational wave predictions. I will give an overview of our present understanding of these uncertainties, and of the tools that have been developed to overcome them. Effective field theory has been at the forefront of this development, and I will outline how it can be used to solve a number of decades-long-standing theoretical problems.

    10:30–11:00 amIsabel Garcia-GarciaTitle: The Rocket Science of Expanding Bubbles

    11:00–1:30 pmBreak
    1:30–3:00 pmLightning Talks 2Sarah Geller
    Peizhi Du
    Tong Ou
    Isaac Wang
    Katie Fraser
    3:00–3:30 pmDavid Dunsky
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Gravitational Wave Gastronomy

    Abstract: The symmetry breaking of grand unified gauge groups in the early universe often leaves behind relic topological defects such as cosmic strings, domain walls, or monopoles. For some symmetry breaking chains, hybrid defects can form where cosmic strings attach to domain walls or monopoles attach to strings. In general, such hybrid defects are unstable and can leave behind unique gravitational wave fingerprints. In this talk, I will discuss the gravitational wave spectrum from 1) the destruction of a cosmic string network by the nucleation of monopoles which cut up and “eat” the strings, 2) the collapse and decay of a monopole-string network by strings that “eat” the monopoles, 3) the destruction of a domain wall network by the nucleation of string-bounded holes on the wall that expand and “eat” the wall, and 4) the collapse and decay of a string-bounded wall network by walls that “eat” the strings. We call the gravitational wave signals produced from the “eating” of one topological defect by another “gravitational wave gastronomy”. The gravitational wave gastronomy signals considered yield unique spectra that can be used to narrow down the SO(10) symmetry breaking chain to the Standard Model and the scales of symmetry breaking associated with the consumed topological defects.

    3:30–4:00 pmYanou Cui
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Cosmic Archaeology with gravitational waves from (axion) cosmic strings

    Abstract: In this talk I will discuss important aspects of cosmology and particle physics that can be probed with GW signals from cosmic strings: probing the pre-BBN primordial dark age and axion physics.  Gravitational waves (GWs) originating from the dynamics of a cosmic string network have the ability to probe many otherwise inaccessible properties of the early universe. In particular, I will discuss how the frequency spectrum of a stochastic GW background (SGWB) from a cosmic string network can be used to probe Hubble expansion rate of the early universe prior to Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN), during the “primordial dark age”. Furthermore I will show that in contrast to the standard expectation, cosmic strings formed before inflation could regrow back into the horizon and leave imprints, with GW bursts potentially being the leading signal. In relation to axion physics I will also demonstrate the detection prospect for SGWB from global/axion strings which may provide a new probe for axion-like dark matter models, considering various scenarios of cosmic history.

    4:00–4:30 pmMichael NeeTitle: The Boring Monopole

    Abstract: First order phase transitions play an important role in the cosmology of many theories of BSM physics. In this talk I will discuss how a population of magnetic monopoles present in the early universe can seed first order phase transitions, causing them to proceed much more rapidly than in the usual case. The field profiles describing the decay do not have the typically assumed O(3)/O(4) symmetry, thus requiring an extension of the usual decay rate calculation. To numerically determine the saddle point solutions which describe the decay we use a new algorithm based on the mountain pass theorem. Our results show that monopole-catalysed tunnelling can dominate over the homogeneous decay for a wide range of parameters.


    Thursday, August 4, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfast
    9:30–10:00 amYikun WangTitle: A New Approach to Electroweak Symmetry Non-Restoration

    Abstract: Electroweak symmetry non-restoration up to high temperatures well above the electroweak scale has intriguing implications for (electroweak) baryogenesis and early universe thermal histories. In this talk, I will discuss such a possible fate of the electroweak symmetry in the early universe and a new approach to realize it, via an inert Higgs sector that couples to the Standard Model Higgs as well as an extended scalar singlet sector. Examples of benchmark scenarios that allow for electroweak symmetry non-restoration all the way up to hundreds of TeV temperatures, at the same time featuring suppressed sphaleron washout factors down to the electroweak scale, will be presented. Renormalization group improvements and thermal resummation, necessary to evaluate the effective potential spanning over a broad range of energy scales and temperatures, have been implemented calculating the thermal history. This method for transmitting the Standard Model broken electroweak symmetry to an inert Higgs sector can be scrutinized through Higgs physics phenomenology and electroweak precision measurements at the HL-LHC.

    10:00–10:30 amSoubhik KumarTitle: Probing primordial fluctuations through stochastic gravitational wave background anisotropies

    Abstract: Stochastic gravitational wave backgrounds are expected to be anisotropic. While such anisotropies can be of astrophysical origin, a cosmological component of such anisotropies can carry rich information about primordial perturbations. Focusing on the case of a cosmological phase transition, I will talk about how such anisotropies can give us a powerful probe of primordial non-Gaussianities, complementary to current and future CMB and LSS searches. In the scenario where astrophysical foregrounds are also present, I will then discuss some strategies using which we can extract the cosmological signal, focusing on the case of LISA, Taiji and BBO, in particular.

    10:30–11:00 amJessica Howard
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Dark Matter Freeze-out during SU(2)_L Confinement

    Abstract: We explore the possibility that dark matter is a pair of SU(2)_L doublets and propose a novel mechanism of dark matter production that proceeds through the confinement of the weak sector of the Standard Model. This phase of confinement causes the Standard Model doublets and dark matter to confine into pion-like objects. Before the weak sector deconfines, the dark pions freezeout and generate a relic abundance of dark matter. We solve the Boltzmann equations for this scenario to determine the scale of confinement and constituent dark matter mass required to produce the observed relic density. We determine which regions of this parameter space evade direct detection and collider bounds.

    11:00–11:30 amJuven WangTitle: Quantum Matter Adventure to Beyond the Standard Model Prediction

    Abstract: Ideas developed from the quantum matter and quantum field theory frontier may guide us to explore new physics beyond the 4d Standard Model. I propose a few such ideas. First, new physics for neutrinos: right-handed neutrinos carry a Z_{16} class mixed gauge-gravitational global anomaly index, which could be replaced by 4d or 5d topological quantum field theory, or 4d interacting conformal field theory. These theories provide possible new neutrino mass mechanisms [arXiv:2012.15860]. Second, deconfined quantum criticality between Grand Unified Theories: dictated by a Z_2 class global anomaly, a gapless quantum critical region can happen between Georgi-Glashow and Pati-Salam models as deformation of the Standard Model, where Beyond the Standard Model physics and Dark Gauge sector occur as neighbor phases [arXiv:2106.16248, arXiv:2112.14765, arXiv:2204.08393]. Third, the Strong CP problem can be solved by a new solution involving Symmetric Mass Generation [arXiv:2204.14271].

    11:30–1:30 pmBreak
    1:30–4:00 pmStephen R. TaylorTitle: Pulsar Timing Arrays: The Next Window onto the Low-frequency Gravitational-wave Universe

    Abstract: The nanohertz-frequency band of gravitational waves should be awash with signals from supermassive black-hole binaries, as well as cosmological signatures of phase transitions, cosmic strings, and other relics of the early Universe. Pulsar-timing arrays (PTAs) like the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational waves (NANOGrav) and the International Pulsar Timing Array are poised to chart this new frontier of gravitational wave discovery within the next several years. I will present exciting new results from recent cutting-edge searches, discuss some milestones on the road to the next decade of PTA discovery, and take workshop attendees through a guided tutorial of how the broader community can use our production-level analysis pipeline to extract new science with ease.


    Friday, August 5, 2022

    9:00–9:30 amBreakfast
    9:30–10:00 amOfri TelemTitle: Charge-Monopole Pairwise Phases from Dressed Quantum States

    10:00–10:30 amSungwoo HongTitle: Coupling a Cosmic String to a TQFT

    Abstract: In the last few years, the notion of symmetry has been enlarged to “generalized symmetry” or “higher-form symmetry” and these more generalized symmetries have played a critical role in deepening our understanding of QFT, notably IR phases of QFT. In this talk, I will discuss a various ways of coupling the axion-Maxwell theory to a topological field theory (TQFT). Contrary to a common wisdom, I will show that such topological modifications can lead to direct changes in the local physics with possible observable consequences. This surprise can be realized by a dimensional reduction, namely, a coupling to a TQFT in 4d leads to a non-trivial and local impact on the 2d string world-sheet QFT. There also exists a topological modification of the theory, i.e. gauging a discrete subgroup of 0-form shift symmetry, and this time it results in a alteration of spectrum of cosmic strings. If time permits, I will also discuss generalized symmetries and associated higher-groups of these theories.

    10:30–11:00 amEleanor Hall
    (Virtual via Zoom)
    Title: Non-perturbative methods for false vacuum decay

    Abstract: Gravitational waves from phase transitions in the early universe are one of our most promising signal channels of BSM physics; however, existing methods for predicting these signals are limited to weakly-coupled theories. In this talk, I present the quasi-stationary effective action, a new non-perturbative formalism for false vacuum decay that integrates over local fluctuations in field space using the functional renormalization group. This method opens the door to reliable calculation of gravitational wave signals and false vacuum decay rates for strongly-interacting theories. I will also discuss recent developments and ongoing extensions of the QSEA.

    11:00–1:30 pmBreak
    1:30–2:00 pmMrunal KorwarTitle: Electroweak Symmetric Balls

    Abstract: Electroweak symmetric balls are macroscopic objects with electroweak symmetry restored inside. Such an object can arise in models where dark sectors contain monopole or non-topological soliton with a Higgs portal interaction to the Standard Model. It could be produced in the early universe via phase transition or parametric resonance, accounting for all dark matter. In a scenario where the balls are allowed to evaporate, the observed baryon asymmetry in our universe could be explained by a mechanism of “catalyzed baryogenesis.” In this mechanism, the motion of a ball-like catalyst provides the necessary out-of-equilibrium condition, its outer wall has CP-violating interactions with the Standard Model particles, and its interior has baryon number violating interactions via electroweak Sphaleron. Because of electroweak symmetric cores, such objects have a large geometric cross-section off a nucleus, generating a multi-hit signature in large volume detectors. These objects could radiatively capture a nucleus and release GeV-scale energy for each interaction. The IceCube detector can probe dark matter balls with masses up to a gram.

    2:00–2:30 pmSeth KorenTitle: Discrete Gauged Baryon Minus Lepton Number and the Cosmological Lithium Problem

    Abstract: We study the baryon minus lepton number gauge theory broken by a scalar with charge six. The infrared discrete vestige of the gauge symmetry demands the existence of cosmic string solutions, and their production as dynamical objects in the early universe is guaranteed by causality. These topological defects can support interactions which convert three protons into three positrons, and we argue an `electric’-`magnetic’ interplay can lead to an amplified, strong-scale cross-section in an analogue of the Callan-Rubakov effect.
    The cosmological lithium problem—that theory predicts a primordial abundance thrice as high as that observed—has resisted decades of attempts by cosmologists, nuclear physicists, and astronomers alike to root out systematics. We suggest cosmic strings have disintegrated O(1) of the primordial lithium nuclei and estimate the rate in a benchmark scenario. To our knowledge this is the first new physics mechanism with microphysical justification for the abundance of lithium uniquely to be modified after Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.

    2:30–3:00 pmYann GouttenoireTitle: Supercool Composite Dark Matter beyond 100 TeV



  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    Title: Recent Advances on Maximum Flows and Minimum-Cost Flows

    Abstract: We survey recent advances on computing flows in graphs, culminating in an almost linear time algorithm for solving minimum-cost flow and several other problems to high accuracy on directed graphs. Along the way, we will discuss intuitions from linear programming, graph theory, and data structures that influence these works, and the resulting natural open problems.

    Bio: Yang P. Liu is a final-year graduate student at Stanford University. He is broadly interested in the efficient design of algorithms, particularly flows, convex optimization, and online algorithms. For his work, he has been awarded STOC and ITCS best student papers.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    Virtual and in 20 Garden Street, Room G10

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Speaker: Yue M. Lu, Harvard University

    Title: Exploring and Exploiting the Universality Phenomena in High-Dimensional Estimation and Learning

    Abstract: Universality is a fascinating high-dimensional phenomenon. It points to the existence of universal laws that govern the macroscopic behavior of wide classes of large and complex systems, despite their differences in microscopic details. The notion of universality originated in statistical mechanics, especially in the study of phase transitions. Similar phenomena have been observed in probability theory, dynamical systems, random matrix theory, and number theory.
    In this talk, I will present some recent progresses in rigorously understanding and exploiting the universality phenomena in the context of statistical estimation and learning on high-dimensional data. Examples include spectral methods for high-dimensional projection pursuit, statistical learning based on kernel and random feature models, and approximate message passing algorithms on highly structured, strongly correlated, and even (nearly) deterministic data matrices. Together, they demonstrate the robustness and wide applicability of the universality phenomena.

    Bio: Yue M. Lu attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received the M.Sc. degree in mathematics and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, both in 2007.  He is currently Gordon McKay Professor of Electrical Engineering and of Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He is also fortunate to have held visiting appointments at Duke University in 2016 and at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in 2019. His research interests include the mathematical foundations of statistical signal processing and machine learning in high dimensions.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    The number of n-queens configurations

    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Speaker: Michael Simkin, Harvard CMSA

    Title: The number of n-queens configurations

    Abstract: The n-queens problem is to determine Q(n), the number of ways to place n mutually non-threatening queens on an n x n board. The problem has a storied history and was studied by such eminent mathematicians as Gauss and Polya. The problem has also found applications in fields such as algorithm design and circuit development.

    Despite much study, until recently very little was known regarding the asymptotics of Q(n). We apply modern methods from probabilistic combinatorics to reduce understanding Q(n) to the study of a particular infinite-dimensional convex optimization problem. The chief implication is that (in an appropriate sense) for a~1.94, Q(n) is approximately (ne^(-a))^n. Furthermore, our methods allow us to study the typical “shape” of n-queens configurations.

  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    5/13/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Yang Qi (Fudan)

    Title: Phase Fluctuations in Two-Dimensional Superconductors and Pseudogap Phenomenon

    Abstract: We study the phase fluctuations in the normal state of a general two-dimensional (2d) superconducting system with s-wave pairing. The effect of phase fluctuations of the pairing fields can be dealt with perturbatively using disorder averaging, after we treat the local superconducting order parameter as a static disordered background. It is then confirmed that the phase fluctuations above the 2d Berenzinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless (BKT) transition give birth to the pseudogap phenomenon, leading to a significant broadening of the single-particle spectral functions. Quantitatively, the broadening of the spectral weights at the BCS gap is characterized by the ratio of the superconducting coherence length and the spatial correlation length of the superconducting pairing order parameter. Our results are tested on the attractive-U fermion Hubbard model on the square lattice, using unbiased determinant quantum Monte Carlo method and stochastic analytic continuation. We also apply our method to 2d superconductors with d-wave pairing and observe that the phase fluctuations may lead to Fermi-arc phenomenon above the BKT transition.


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series

    Math Science Literature Lecture Series Event
    CMSA Math-Science Literature Lecture: Theorems of Torelli type

    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Eduard Jacob Neven Looijenga (Tsinghua University & Utrecht University)

    Title: Theorems of Torelli type

    Abstract: Given a closed manifold of even dimension 2n, then Hodge showed around 1950 that a  kählerian complex structure on that manifold determines a decomposition of its complex cohomology. This decomposition, which can potentially vary continuously with the complex structure, extracts from a non-linear given,  linear data. It can contain a lot of information. When there is essentially no loss of data in this process, we say that the Torelli theorem holds.  We review the underlying theory and then survey some cases where this is the case. This will include the classical case n=1, but the emphasis will be on K3 manifolds (n=2) and more generally, on hyperkählerian manifolds. These cases stand out, since one can then also tell which decompositions occur.

    Talk chair: Gerard van der Geer


  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA QMMP Seminar

    Quantum Matter in Mathematics and Physics Seminar

    Speaker: Zhengyan Darius Shi (MIT)
    Title: Gifts from anomalies: new results on quantum critical transport in non-Fermi liquids
    Abstract: Non-Fermi liquid phenomena arise naturally near Landau ordering transitions in metallic systems. Here, we leverage quantum anomalies as a powerful nonperturbative tool to calculate optical transport in these models in the infrared limit. While the simplest such models with a single boson flavor (N=1) have zero incoherent conductivity, a recently proposed large N deformation involving flavor-random Yukawa couplings between N flavors of bosons and fermions admits a nontrivial incoherent conductivity \sigma(mega) \sim mega^{-2/z} (z is the boson dynamical exponent) when the order parameter is odd under inversion. The presence of incoherent conductivity in the random flavor model is a consequence of its unusual anomaly structure. From this we conclude that the large N deformation does not share important nonperturbative features with the physical N = 1 model, though it remains an interesting theory in its own right. Going beyond the IR fixed point, we also consider the effects of irrelevant operators and show, within the scope of the RPA expansion, that the old result \sigma(mega) \sim mega^{-2(z-2)/z}  due to Kim et al. is incorrect for inversion-odd order parameters.
  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    5/6/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    4/29/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Frances Kirwan (University of Oxford)

    TitleMoment maps and the Yang-Mills functional

    Abstract: In the early 1980s Michael Atiyah and Raoul Bott wrote two influential papers, ‘The Yang-Mills equations over Riemann surfaces’ and ‘The moment map and equivariant cohomology’, bringing together ideas ranging from algebraic and symplectic geometry through algebraic topology to mathematical physics and number theory. The aim of this talk is to explain their key insights and some of the new directions towards which these papers led.

    This talk is part of a subprogram of the Mathematical Science Literature Lecture series, a Memorial Conference for the founders of index theory: Atiyah, Bott, Hirzebruch and Singer.

    Talk chair: Peter Kronheimer


  • Topological Quantum Matter Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Topological Seminar 09.21.22

    Topological Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Semyon Klevtsov, University of Strasbourg

    Title: Geometric test for topological states of matter

    Abstract: We generalize the flux insertion argument due to Laughlin, Niu-Thouless-Tao-Wu, and Avron-Seiler-Zograf to the case of fractional quantum Hall states on a higher-genus surface. We propose this setting as a test to characterise the robustness, or topologicity, of the quantum state of matter and apply our test to the Laughlin states. Laughlin states form a vector bundle, the Laughlin bundle, over the Jacobian – the space of Aharonov-Bohm fluxes through the holes of the surface. The rank of the Laughlin bundle is the

    degeneracy of Laughlin states or, in presence of quasiholes, the dimension of the corresponding full many-body Hilbert space; its slope, which is the first Chern class divided by the rank, is the Hall conductance. We compute the rank and all the Chern classes of Laughlin bundles for any genus and any number of quasiholes, settling, in particular, the Wen-Niu conjecture. Then we show that Laughlin bundles with non-localized quasiholes are not projectively flat and that the Hall current is precisely quantized only for the states with localized quasiholes. Hence our test distinguishes these states from the full many-body Hilbert space. Based on joint work with Dimitri Zvonkine (CNRS, University of Paris-Versaille).


  • Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Science Seminar
    4/22/2021 Interdisciplinary Science Seminar

    9:00 am-10:00 am
  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Dan Freed (The University of Texas at Austin)

    Title: The Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem

    Abstract: The story of the index theorem ties together the Gang of Four—Atiyah, Bott, Hirzebruch, and Singer—and lies at the intersection of analysis, geometry, and topology. In the first part of the talk I will recount high points in the early developments. Then I turn to subsequent variations and applications. Throughout I emphasize the role of the Dirac operator.

    This talk is part of a subprogram of the Mathematical Science Literature Lecture series, a Memorial Conference for the founders of index theory: Atiyah, Bott, Hirzebruch and Singer.

    Talk chair: Cumrun Vafa


  • Topological Quantum Matter Seminar
    9:00 am-10:00 am
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    CMSA Topological Seminar 09.28.22

    Topological Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Ruihua Fan, Harvard University

    Title: Extracting the quantum Hall conductance from a single bulk wavefunction from the modular flow
    Abstract: One question in the study of topological phases is to identify the topological data from the ground state wavefunction without accessing the Hamiltonian. Since local measurement is not enough, entanglement becomes an indispensable tool. Here, we use modular Hamiltonian (entanglement Hamiltonian) and modular flow to rephrase previous studies on topological entanglement entropy and motivate a natural generalization, which we call the entanglement linear response. We will show how it embraces a previous work by Kim&Shi et al on the chiral central charge, and furthermore, inspires a new formula for the quantum Hall conductance.
  • Workshop
    9:00 am-5:00 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

    On May 16 – May 19, 2023 the CMSA hosted a four-day workshop on GRAMSIA: Graphical Models, Statistical Inference, and Algorithms. The workshop was held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA. This workshop was organized by David Gamarnik (MIT), Kavita Ramanan (Brown), and Prasad Tetali  (Carnegie Mellon).

    The purpose of this workshop is to highlight various mathematical questions and issues associated with graphical models and message-passing algorithms, and to bring together a group of researchers for discussion of the latest progress and challenges ahead. In addition to the substantial impact of graphical models on applied areas, they are also connected to various branches of the mathematical sciences. Rather than focusing on the applications, the primary goal is to highlight and deepen these mathematical connections.

    Location: Room G10, CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138


    • Jake Abernethy (Georgia Tech)
    • Guy Bresler (MIT)
    • Florent Krzakala (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne)
    • Lester Mackey (Microsoft Research New England)
    • Theo McKenzie (Harvard)
    • Andrea Montanari (Stanford)
    • Elchanan Mossel (MIT)
    • Yury Polyanskiy (MIT)
    • Patrick Rebeschini (Oxford)
    • Subhabrata Sen (Harvard)
    • Devavrat Shah (MIT)
    • Pragya Sur (Harvard)
    • Alex Wein (UC Davis)
    • Yihong Wu (Yale)
    • Sarath Yasodharan (Brown)
    • Horng-Tzer Yau (Harvard)
    • Christina Lee Yu (Cornell)
    • Ilias Zadik (MIT)

    Tuesday, May 16, 2023

    9:00 amBreakfast
    9:15 – 9:30 amIntroductory remarks by organizers
    9:30 – 10:20 amSubhabrata Sen (Harvard)

    Title: Mean-field approximations for high-dimensional Bayesian regression

    Abstract: Variational approximations provide an attractive computational alternative to MCMC-based strategies for approximating the posterior distribution in Bayesian inference. The Naive Mean-Field (NMF) approximation is the simplest version of this strategy—this approach approximates the posterior in KL divergence by a product distribution. There has been considerable progress recently in understanding the accuracy of NMF under structural constraints such as sparsity, but not much is known in the absence of such constraints. Moreover, in some high-dimensional settings, the NMF is expected to be grossly inaccurate, and advanced mean-field techniques (e.g. Bethe approximation) are expected to provide accurate approximations. We will present some recent work in understanding this duality in the context of high-dimensional regression. This is based on joint work with Sumit Mukherjee (Columbia) and Jiaze Qiu (Harvard University).

    10:30 – 11:00 amCoffee break 
    11:00 – 11:50 amElchanan Mossel (MIT)

    Title: Some modern perspectives on the Kesten-Stigum bound for reconstruction on trees.

    Abstract: The Kesten-Stigum bound is a fundamental spectral bound for reconstruction on trees. I will discuss some conjectures and recent progress on understanding when it is tight as well as some conjectures and recent progress on what it signifies even in cases where it is not tight.

    12:00 – 2:00 pmLunch
    2:00 – 2:50 pmChristina Lee Yu (Cornell)

    Title: Exploiting Neighborhood Interference with Low Order Interactions under Unit Randomized Design

    Abstract: Network interference, where the outcome of an individual is affected by the treatment assignment of those in their social network, is pervasive in many real-world settings. However, it poses a challenge to estimating causal effects. We consider the task of estimating the total treatment effect (TTE), or the difference between the average outcomes of the population when everyone is treated versus when no one is, under network interference. Under a Bernoulli randomized design, we utilize knowledge of the network structure to provide an unbiased estimator for the TTE when network interference effects are constrained to low order interactions among neighbors of an individual. We make no assumptions on the graph other than bounded degree, allowing for well-connected networks that may not be easily clustered. Central to our contribution is a new framework for balancing between model flexibility and statistical complexity as captured by this low order interactions structure.

    3:00 – 3:30 pmCoffee break
    3:30 – 4:20 pmTheo McKenzie (Harvard)

    Title: Spectral statistics for sparse random graphs

    Abstract: Understanding the eigenvectors and eigenvalues of the adjacency matrix of random graphs is fundamental to many algorithmic questions; moreover, it is related to longstanding questions in quantum physics. In this talk we focus on random models of sparse graphs, giving some properties that are unique to these sparse graphs, as well as some specific obstacles. Based on this, we show some new results on spectral statistics of sparse random graphs, as well as some conjectures.

    4:40 – 6:30 pmLightning talk session + welcome reception


    Wednesday, May 17, 2023

    9:00 amBreakfast
    9:30 – 10:20Ilias Zadik (MIT)

    Title: Revisiting Jerrum’s Metropolis Process for the Planted Clique Problem

    Abstract: Jerrum in 1992 (co-)introduced the planted clique model by proving the (worst-case initialization) failure of the Metropolis process to recover any o(sqrt(n))-sized clique planted in the Erdos-Renyi graph G(n,1/2). This result is classically cited in the literature of the problem, as the “first evidence” the o(sqrt(n))-sized planted clique recovery task is “algorithmically hard”.
    In this work, we show that the Metropolis process actually fails to work (under worst-case initialization) for any o(n)-sized planted clique, that is the failure applies well beyond the sqrt(n) “conjectured algorithmic threshold”. Moreover we also prove, for a large number of temperature values, that the Metropolis process fails also under “natural initialization”, resolving an open question posed by Jerrum in 1992.

    10:30 – 11:00Coffee break
    11:00 – 11:50Florent Krzakala (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne)

    Title: Are Gaussian data all you need for machine learning theory?

    Abstract: Clearly, no! Nevertheless, the Gaussian assumption remains prevalent among theoreticians, particularly in high-dimensional statistics and physics, less so in traditional statistical learning circles. To what extent are Gaussian features merely a convenient choice for certain theoreticians, or genuinely an effective model for learning? In this talk, I will review recent progress on these questions, achieved using rigorous probabilistic approaches in high-dimension and techniques from mathematical statistical physics. I will demonstrate that, despite its apparent limitations, the Gaussian approach is sometimes much closer to reality than one might expect. In particular, I will discuss key findings from a series of recent papers that showcase the Gaussian equivalence of generative models, the universality of Gaussian mixtures, and the conditions under which a single Gaussian can characterize the error in high-dimensional estimation. These results illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of the Gaussian assumption, shedding light on its applicability and limitations in the realm of theoretical statistical learning.

    12:00 – 2:00 pmLunch
    2:00 – 2:50 pmAndrea Montanari (Stanford)

    Title: Dimension free ridge regression

    Abstract: Random matrix theory has become a widely useful tool in high-dimensional statistics and theoretical machine learning. However, random matrix theory is largely focused on the proportional asymptotics in which the number of columns grows proportionally to the number of rows of the data matrix. This is not always the most natural setting in statistics where columns correspond to covariates and rows to samples. With the objective to move beyond the proportional asymptotics, we revisit ridge regression. We allow the feature vector to be high-dimensional, or even infinite-dimensional, in which case it belongs to a separable Hilbert space and assume it to satisfy a certain convex concentration property. Within this setting, we establish non-asymptotic bounds that approximate the bias and variance of ridge regression in terms of the bias and variance of an ‘equivalent’ sequence model (a regression model with diagonal design matrix). Previously, such an approximation result was known only in the proportional regime and only up to additive errors: in particular, it did not allow to characterize the behavior of the excess risk when this converges to 0. Our general theory recovers earlier results in the proportional regime (with better error rates). As a new application, we obtain a completely explicit and sharp characterization of ridge regression for Hilbert covariates with regularly varying spectrum. Finally, we analyze the overparametrized near-interpolation setting and obtain sharp ‘benign overfitting’ guarantees.

    [Based on joint work with Chen Cheng]

    3:00 – 3:50 pmYury Polyanskiy (MIT)

    Title: Recent results on broadcasting on trees and stochastic block model

    Abstract: I will survey recent results and open questions regarding the q-ary stochastic block model and its local version (broadcasting on trees, or BOT). For example, establishing uniqueness of non-trivial solution to distribution recursions (BP fixed point) implies a characterization for the limiting mutual information between the graph and community labels. For q=2 uniqueness holds in all regimes. For q>2 uniqueness is currently only proved above a certain threshold that is asymptotically (for large q) is close to Kesten-Stigum (KS) threshold. At the same time between the BOT reconstruction and KS we show that uniqueness does not hold, at least in the presence of (arbitrary small) vertex-level side information. I will also discuss extension of the robust reconstruction result of Janson-Mossel’2004.

    Based on joint works with Qian Yu (Princeton) and Yuzhou Gu (MIT).

    4:00 – 4:30 pmCoffee break
    4:30 – 5:20 pmAlex Wein (UC Davis)

    Title: Is Planted Coloring Easier than Planted Clique?

    Abstract: The task of finding a planted clique in the random graph G(n,1/2) is perhaps the canonical example of a statistical-computational gap: for some clique sizes, the task is statistically possible but believed to be computationally hard. Really, there are multiple well-studied tasks related to the planted clique model: detection, recovery, and refutation. While these are equally difficult in the case of planted clique, this need not be true in general. In the related planted coloring model, I will discuss the computational complexity of these three tasks and the interplay among them. Our computational hardness results are based on the low-degree polynomial model of computation.By taking the complement of the graph, the planted coloring model is analogous to the planted clique model but with many planted cliques. Here our conclusion is that adding more cliques makes the detection problem easier but not the recovery problem.


    Thursday, May 18, 2023

    9:30 – 10:20Guy Bresler (MIT)

    Title: Algorithmic Decorrelation and Planted Clique in Dependent Random Graphs

    Abstract: There is a growing collection of average-case reductions starting from Planted Clique (or Planted Dense Subgraph) and mapping to a variety of statistics problems, sharply characterizing their computational phase transitions. These reductions transform an instance of Planted Clique, a highly structured problem with its simple clique signal and independent noise, to problems with richer structure. In this talk we aim to make progress in the other direction: to what extent can these problems, which often have complicated dependent noise, be transformed back to Planted Clique? Such a bidirectional reduction between Planted Clique and another problem shows a strong computational equivalence between the two problems.  We develop a new general framework for reasoning about the validity of average-case reductions based on low sensitivity to perturbations. As a concrete instance of our general result, we consider the planted clique (or dense subgraph) problem in an ambient graph that has dependent edges induced by randomly adding triangles to the Erdos-Renyi graph G(n,p), and show how to successfully eliminate dependence by carefully removing the triangles while approximately preserving the clique (or dense subgraph). Joint work with Chenghao Guo and Yury Polyanskiy.

    10:30 – 11:00Coffee break 
    11:00 – 11:50Sarath Yasodharan (Brown)

    Title: A Sanov-type theorem for unimodular marked random graphs and its applications

    Abstract: We prove a Sanov-type large deviation principle for the component empirical measures of certain sequences of unimodular random graphs (including Erdos-Renyi and random regular graphs) whose vertices are marked with i.i.d. random variables. Specifically, we show that the rate function can be expressed in a fairly tractable form involving suitable relative entropy functionals. As a corollary, we establish a variational formula for the annealed pressure (or limiting log partition function) for various statistical physics models on sparse random graphs. This is joint work with I-Hsun Chen and Kavita Ramanan.

    12:00 – 12:15 pm

    12:15 – 2:00 pm

    Group Photo


    2:00 – 2:50 pmPatrick Rebeschini (Oxford)

    Title: Implicit regularization via uniform convergence

    Abstract: Uniform convergence is one of the main tools to analyze the complexity of learning algorithms based on explicit regularization, but it has shown limited applicability in the context of implicit regularization. In this talk, we investigate the statistical guarantees on the excess risk achieved by early-stopped mirror descent run on the unregularized empirical risk with the squared loss for linear models and kernel methods. We establish a direct link between the potential-based analysis of mirror descent from optimization theory and uniform learning. This link allows characterizing the statistical performance of the path traced by mirror descent directly in terms of localized Rademacher complexities of function classes depending on the choice of the mirror map, initialization point, step size, and the number of iterations. We will discuss other results along the way.

    3:00 – 3:50 pmPragya Sur (Harvard)

    Title: A New Central Limit Theorem for the Augmented IPW estimator in high dimensions

    Abstract: Estimating the average treatment effect (ATE) is a central problem in causal inference. Modern advances in the field studied estimation and inference for the ATE in high dimensions through a variety of approaches. Doubly robust estimators such as the augmented inverse probability weighting (AIPW) form a popular approach in this context. However, the high-dimensional literature surrounding these estimators relies on sparsity conditions, either on the outcome regression (OR) or the propensity score (PS) model. This talk will introduce a new central limit theorem for the classical AIPW estimator, that applies agnostic to such sparsity-type assumptions. Specifically, we will study properties of the cross-fit version of the estimator under well-specified OR and PS models, and the proportional asymptotics regime where the number of confounders and sample size diverge proportional to each other. Under assumptions on the covariate distribution, our CLT will uncover two crucial phenomena among others: (i) the cross-fit AIPW exhibits a substantial variance inflation that can be quantified in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio and other problem parameters, (ii) the asymptotic covariance between the estimators used while cross-fitting is non-negligible even on the root-n scale. These findings are strikingly different from their classical counterparts, and open a vista of possibilities for studying similar other high-dimensional effects. On the technical front, our work utilizes a novel interplay between three distinct tools—approximate message passing theory, the theory of deterministic equivalents, and the leave-one-out approach.

    4:00 – 4:30 pmCoffee break
    4:30 – 5:20 pmYihong Wu (Yale)

    Title: Random graph matching at Otter’s threshold via counting chandeliers

    Abstract: We propose an efficient algorithm for graph matching based on similarity scores constructed from counting a certain family of weighted trees rooted at each vertex. For two Erdős–Rényi graphs G(n,q) whose edges are correlated through a latent vertex correspondence, we show that this algorithm correctly matches all but a vanishing fraction of the vertices with high probability, provided that nq\to\infty and the edge correlation coefficient ρ satisfies ρ^2>α≈0.338, where α is Otter’s tree-counting constant. Moreover, this almost exact matching can be made exact under an extra condition that is information-theoretically necessary. This is the first polynomial-time graph matching algorithm that succeeds at an explicit constant correlation and applies to both sparse and dense graphs. In comparison, previous methods either require ρ=1−o(1) or are restricted to sparse graphs. The crux of the algorithm is a carefully curated family of rooted trees called chandeliers, which allows effective extraction of the graph correlation from the counts of the same tree while suppressing the undesirable correlation between those of different trees. This is joint work with Cheng Mao, Jiaming Xu, and Sophie Yu, available at https://arxiv.org/abs/2209.12313


    Friday, May 19, 2023

    9:30 – 10:20Jake Abernethy (Georgia Tech)

    Title: Optimization, Learning, and Margin-maximization via Playing Games

    Abstract: A very popular trick for solving certain types of optimization problems is this: write your objective as the solution of a two-player zero-sum game, endow both players with an appropriate learning algorithm, watch how the opponents compete, and extract an (approximate) solution from the actions/decisions taken by the players throughout the process. This approach is very generic and provides a natural template to produce new and interesting algorithms. I will describe this framework and show how it applies in several scenarios, including optimization, learning, and margin-maximiation problems. Along the way we will encounter a number of novel tools and rediscover some classical ones as well.

    10:30 – 11:00Coffee break 
    11:00 – 11:50Devavrat Shah (MIT)

    Title: On counterfactual inference with unobserved confounding via exponential family

    Abstract: We are interested in the problem of unit-level counterfactual inference with unobserved confounders owing to the increasing importance of personalized decision-making in many domains: consider a recommender system interacting with a user over time where each user is provided recommendations based on observed demographics, prior engagement levels as well as certain unobserved factors. The system adapts its recommendations sequentially and differently for each user. Ideally, at each point in time, the system wants to infer each user’s unknown engagement if it were exposed to a different sequence of recommendations while everything else remained unchanged. This task is challenging since: (a) the unobserved factors could give rise to spurious associations, (b) the users could be heterogeneous, and (c) only a single trajectory per user is available.

    We model the underlying joint distribution through an exponential family. This reduces the task of unit-level counterfactual inference to simultaneously learning a collection of distributions of a given exponential family with different unknown parameters with single observation per distribution. We discuss a computationally efficient method for learning all of these parameters with estimation error scaling linearly with the metric entropy of the space of unknown parameters – if the parameters are an s-sparse linear combination of k known vectors in p dimension, the error scales as O(s log k/p).  En route, we derive sufficient conditions for compactly supported distributions to satisfy the logarithmic Sobolev inequality.

    Based on a joint work with Raaz Dwivedi, Abhin Shah and Greg Wornell (all at MIT) with manuscript available here: https://arxiv.org/abs/2211.08209

    12:00 – 2:00 pmLunch 
    2:00 – 2:50 pmLester Mackey  (Microsoft Research New England)

    Title: Advances in Distribution Compression

    Abstract: This talk will introduce two new tools for summarizing a probability distribution more effectively than independent sampling or standard Markov chain Monte Carlo thinning:
    1. Given an initial n-point summary (for example, from independent sampling or a Markov chain), kernel thinning finds a subset of only square-root n-points with comparable worst-case integration error across a reproducing kernel Hilbert space.
    2. If the initial summary suffers from biases due to off-target sampling, tempering, or burn-in, Stein thinning simultaneously compresses the summary and improves the accuracy by correcting for these biases.
    These tools are especially well-suited for tasks that incur substantial downstream computation costs per summary point like organ and tissue modeling in which each simulation consumes 1000s of CPU hours.
    Based on joint work with Raaz Dwivedi, Marina Riabiz, Wilson Ye Chen, Jon Cockayne, Pawel Swietach, Steven A. Niederer, Chris. J. Oates, Abhishek Shetty, and Carles Domingo-Enrich.

    3:00 – 3:30 pmCoffee break
    3:30 – 4:20 pmHorng-Tzer Yau (Harvard)

    Title: On the spectral gap of mean-field spin glass models.

    Abstract: We will discuss recent progress regarding spectral gaps for the Glauber dynamics of spin glasses at high temperature. In addition, we will also report on estimating the operator norm  of the covariance matrix for the SK model.


    Moderators: Benjamin McKenna, Harvard CMSA & Changji Xu, Harvard CMSA


    CMSA COVID-19 Policies


  • Quantum Matter
    9:00 am-10:30 am

    Quantum Matter Seminar

    Speaker: Francisco Machado  (Berkeley/Harvard)

    Title: Kardar-Parisi-Zhang dynamics in integrable quantum magnets

    Abstract: Although the equations of motion that govern quantum mechanics are well-known, understanding the emergent macroscopic behavior that arises from a particular set of microscopic interactions remains remarkably challenging. One particularly important behavior is that of hydrodynamical transport; when a quantum system has a conserved quantity (i.e. total spin), the late-time, coarse-grained dynamics of the conserved charge is expected to follow a simple, classical hydrodynamical description. However the nature and properties of this hydrodynamical description can depend on many details of the underlying interactions. For example, the presence of additional dynamical constraints can fundamentally alter the propagation of the conserved quantity and induce slower-than-diffusion propagation. At the same time, the presence of an extensive number of conserved quantities in the form of integrability, can imbue the system with stable quasi-particles that propagate ballistically through the system.

    In this talk, I will discuss another possibility that arises from the interplay of integrability and symmetry; in integrable one dimensional quantum magnets with complex symmetries, spin transport is neither ballistic nor diffusive, but rather superdiffusive. Using a novel method for the simulation of quantum dynamics (termed Density Matrix Truncation), I will present a detailed analysis of spin transport in a variety of integrable quantum magnets with various symmetries. Crucially, our analysis is not restricted to capturing the dynamical exponent of the transport dynamics and enables us to fully characterize its universality class: for all superdiffusive models, we find that transport falls under the celebrated Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ) universality class.

    Finally, I will discuss how modern atomic, molecular and optical platforms provide an important bridge to connect the microscopic interactions to the resulting hydrodynamical transport dynamics. To this end, I will present recent experimental results, where this KPZ universal behavior was observed using atoms confined to an optical lattice.

    [1] Universal Kardar-Parisi-Zhang dynamics in integrable quantum systems
    B Ye†, FM*, J Kemp*, RB Hutson, NY Yao
    (PRL in press) – arXiv:2205.02853

    [2] Quantum gas microscopy of Kardar-Parisi-Zhang superdiffusion
    D Wei, A Rubio-Abadal, B Ye, FM, J Kemp, K Srakaew, S Hollerith, J Rui, S Gopalakrishnan, NY Yao, I Bloch, J Zeiher
    Science (2022) — arXiv:2107.00038



  • CMSA EVENT: Machine Learning for Multiscale Model Reduction Workshop
    9:00 am-11:55 am

    The Machine Learning for Multiscale Model Reduction Workshop will take place on March 27-29, 2019. This is the second of two workshops organized by Michael BrennerShmuel Rubinstein, and Tom Hou.  The first, Fluid turbulence and Singularities of the Euler/ Navier Stokes equations, will take place on March 13-15, 2019. Both workshops will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

    For a list of lodging options convenient to the Center, please visit our recommended lodgings page.

    List of registrants


  • Math Science Literature Lecture Series

    Math Science Literature Lecture Series Event
    CMSA/Tsinghua Math-Science Literature Lecture: Scott Kominers

    9:00 am-10:30 am

    CMSA/Tsinghua Math-Science Literature Lecture

    Prof. Scott Kominers will present a lecture in the CMSA/Tsinghua Math-Science Literature Lecture Series.

    Date: Monday, November 20, 2023

    Time: 9:00 – 10:30 am ET

    Location: Via Zoom Webinar

    Registration is required.

    Title: 60 Years of Matching: From Gale and Shapley to Trading Networks

    Abstract: Gale and Shapley’s 1962 American Mathematical Monthly paper, “College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage,” is by now one of the most cited articles in the journal’s history, having served as the foundation for an entire branch of the field of market design. This success owes in large part to the beautiful, applicable, and surprisingly general theory of matching mechanisms uncovered in Gale and Shapley’s work. This talk traces the history and evolution of matching theory from that paper forward to the present day, along the way touching on real-world applications to everything from medical residency matching to electricity markets.

    Moderator: Sergiy Verstyuk

    Beginning in Spring 2020, the CMSA began hosting a lecture series on literature in the mathematical sciences, with a focus on significant developments in mathematics that have influenced the discipline, and the lifetime accomplishments of significant scholars.


    CMSA COVID-19 Policies

  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Geometry, Imaging, and Computing
    9:00 am-6:15 pm

    On March 24-26, The Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be hosting a workshop on Geometry, Imaging, and Computing, based off  the journal of the same name. The workshop will take place in CMSA building, G10.

    The organizing committee consists of Yang Wang (HKUST), Ronald Lui (CUHK), David Gu (Stony Brook), and Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard).

    Please click here to register for the event.

    Confirmed Speakers:

  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Optimization in Image Processing
    9:00 am-12:30 pm

    The Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications will be hosting a workshop on Optimization in Image Processing on June 27 – 30, 2016. This 4-day workshop aims to bring together researchers to exchange and stimulate ideas in imaging sciences, with a special focus on new approaches based on optimization methods. This is a cutting-edge topic with crucial impact in various areas of imaging science including inverse problems, image processing and computer vision. 16 speakers will participate in this event, which we think will be a very stimulating and exciting workshop. The workshop will be hosted in Room G10 of the CMSA Building located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

    Titles, abstracts and schedule will be provided nearer to the event.


    1. Antonin Chambolle, CMAP, Ecole Polytechnique
    2. Raymond Chan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    3. Ke Chen, University of Liverpool
    4. Patrick Louis Combettes, Université Pierre et Marie Curie
    5. Mario Figueiredo, Instituto Superior Técnico
    6. Alfred Hero, University of Michigan
    7. Ronald Lok Ming Lui, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    8. Mila Nikolova, Ecole Normale Superieure Cachan
    9. Shoham Sabach, Israel Institute of Technology
    10. Martin Benning, University of Cambridge
    11. Jin Keun Seo, Yonsei University
    12. Fiorella Sgallari, University of Bologna
    13. Gabriele Steidl, Kaiserslautern University of Technology
    14. Joachim Weickert, Saarland University
    15. Isao Yamada, Tokyo Institute of Technology
    16. Wotao Yin, UCLA

    Please click Workshop Program for a downloadable schedule with talk abstracts.

    Please note that lunch will not be provided during the conference, but a map of Harvard Square with a list of local restaurants can be found by clicking Map & Resturants.

    Please click here for registration – Registration Deadline: June 7, 2016; Registration is capped at 70 participants.


    June 27 – Day 1
    9:20amOpening remarks
    9:30am – 10:20amJoachim Weickert, “FSI Schemes: Fast Semi-Iterative Methods for Diffusive or Variational Image Analysis Problems”
    10:20am – 10:50amBreak
    10:50am – 11:40pmPatrick Louis Combettes“Block-Iterative Asynchronous Variational Image Recovery”
    11:40am – 12:30pmIsao Yamada“Spicing up Convex Optimization for Certain Inverse Problems”
    12:30pm – 2:00pmLunch
    2:30pm – 3:20pmFiorella Sgallari, “Majorization-Minimization for Nonconvex Optimization”
    3:20pm – 3:50pmBreak
    3:50pm – 4:40pmShoham Sabach“A Framework for Globally Convergent Methods in Nonsmooth and Nonconvex Problems”
    June 28 – Day 2
    9:30am – 10:20amAntonin Chambolle“Acceleration of alternating minimisations”
    10:20am – 10:50amBreak
    10:50am – 11:40amMario Figueiredo“ADMM in Image Restoration and Related Problems: Some History and Recent Advances”
    11:40am – 12:30pmKe Chen“Image Restoration and Registration Based on Total Fractional-Order Variation Regularization”
    12:30pm – 2:30pmLunch
    2:30pm – 4:40pmDiscussions
    June 29 – Day 3
    9:30am – 10:20amAlfred Hero“Continuum relaxations for discrete optimization”
    10:20am – 10:50amBreak
    10:50am – 11:40amWotao Yin“Coordinate Update Algorithms for Computational Imaging and Machine Learning”
    11:40am – 12:30pmMila Nikolova“Limits on noise removal using log-likelihood and regularization”
    12:30pm – 2:30pmLunch
    2:30pm – 3:20pmMartin Benning, “Nonlinear spectral decompositions and the inverse scale space method”
    3:20pm – 3:50pmBreak
    3:50pm – 4:40pmRonald Ming Lui“TEMPO: Feature-endowed Teichmuller extremal mappings of point cloud for shape classification”
    June 30 – Day 4
    9:30am – 10:20amJin Keun Seo“Mathematical methods for biomedical impedance imaging”
    10:20am – 10:50amBreak
    10:50am – 11:40amGabriele Steidl, “Iterative Multiplicative Filters for Data Labeling”
    11:40am – 12:30pmRaymond Chan, “Point-spread function reconstruction in ground-based astronomy”
    * This event is sponsored by CMSA Harvard University.

    Organizers: Raymond Chan and Shing-Tung Yau

  • Combinatorics Physics and Probability

    Combinatorics Physics and Probability
    Invariant theory for maximum likelihood estimation

    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract:  I will talk about work to uncover connections between invariant theory and maximum likelihood estimation. I will describe how norm minimization over a torus orbit is equivalent to maximum likelihood estimation in log-linear models. We will see the role played by polytopes and discuss connections to scaling algorithms. Based on joint work with Carlos Améndola, Kathlén Kohn, and Philipp Reichenbach.

  • CMSA EVENT: Quantum Matter Workshop
    9:00 am-5:00 pm
    CMSA, 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
    Quantum Matter Workshop

    On December 2-4, 2019 the CMSA will be hosting a workshop on Quantum Matter as part of our program on Quantum Matter in Mathematics and Physics. The workshop will be held in room G10 of the CMSA, located at 20 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA.

    Pictures can be found here.

    Organizers: Juven Wang (CMSA), Xiao-Gang Wen (MIT), and Shing-Tung Yau (Harvard)

    Confirmed Speakers: 


  • Combinatorics Physics and Probability
    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: I will first review the construction of the moduli space of tropical curves (or metric graphs), and its relation to graph complexes. The graph Laplacian may be interpreted as a tropical version of the classical Torelli map and its determinant is the Kirchhoff graph polynomial (also called 1st Symanzik), which is one of the two key components in Feynman integrals in high energy physics.The other component is the so-called 2nd Symanzik polynomial, which is defined for graphs with external half edges and involves particle masses (edge colourings). I will explain how this too may be interpreted as the determinant of a generalised graph Laplacian, and how it leads to a volumetric interpretation of a certain class of Feynman integrals.

  • Joint Harvard-CUHK-YMSC Differential Geometry

    Joint Harvard-CUHK-YMSC Differential Geometry
    Geodesics and minimal surfaces

    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract: There are several properties of closed geodesics which are proven using its Hamiltonian formulation, which has no analogue for minimal surfaces. I will talk about some recent progress in proving some of these properties for minimal surfaces.

  • Combinatorics Physics and Probability

    Combinatorics Physics and Probability
    The Amplituhedron BCFW Triangulation

    9:00 am-10:00 am

    Abstract:  The (tree) amplituhedron was introduced in 2013 by Arkani-Hamed and Trnka in their study of N=4 SYM scattering amplitudes. A central conjecture in the field was to prove that the m=4 amplituhedron is triangulated by the images of certain positroid cells, called the BCFW cells. In this talk I will describe a resolution of this conjecture. The seminar is based on a recent joint work with Chaim Even-Zohar and Tsviqa Lakrec.

  • CMSA EVENT: Workshop on Coding and Information Theory