CMSA Colloquium

2022-01-26 09:30 - 10:30

During the 2021–22 academic year, the CMSA will be hosting a Colloquium, organized by Du Pei, Changji Xu, and Michael Simkin. It will take place on Wednesdays at 9:30am – 10:30am (Boston time). The meetings will take place virtually on Zoom. All CMSA postdocs/members are required to attend the weekly CMSA Members’ Seminars, as well as the weekly CMSA Colloquium series. The schedule below will be updated as talks are confirmed.

Spring 2022

Date Speaker Title/Abstract
1/26/2022 Samir Mathur (Ohio State University) Title: The black hole information paradox

Abstract: In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that black holes radiate away in a manner that violates quantum theory. Starting in 1997, it was observed that black holes in string theory did not have the form expected from general relativity: in place of “empty space will all the mass at the center,” one finds a “fuzzball” where the mass is distributed throughout the interior of the horizon. This resolves the paradox, but opposition to this resolution came from groups who sought to extrapolate some ideas in holography. In 2009 it was shown, using some theorems from quantum information theory, that these extrapolations were incorrect, and the fuzzball structure was essential for resolving the puzzle. Opposition continued along different lines, with a postulate that information would leak out through wormholes. Recently, it was shown that this wormhole idea had some basic flaws, leaving the fuzzball paradigm as the natural resolution of Hawking’s puzzle.


2/2/2022 Adam Smith (Boston University) TitleLearning and inference from sensitive data

Abstract: Consider an agency holding a large database of sensitive personal information—say,  medical records, census survey answers, web searches, or genetic data. The agency would like to discover and publicly release global characteristics of the data while protecting the privacy of individuals’ records.

I will discuss recent (and not-so-recent) results on this problem with a focus on the release of statistical models. I will first explain some of the fundamental limitations on the release of machine learning models—specifically, why such models must sometimes memorize training data points nearly completely. On the more positive side, I will present differential privacy, a rigorous definition of privacy in statistical databases that is now widely studied, and increasingly used to analyze and design deployed systems. I will explain some of the challenges of sound statistical inference based on differentially private statistics, and lay out directions for future investigation.

2/8/2022 Wenbin Yan (Tsinghua University)
(special time: 9:30 pm ET)
Title: Tetrahedron instantons and M-theory indices

Abstract: We introduce and study tetrahedron instantons. Physically they capture instantons on $\mathbb{C}^{3}$ in the presence of the most general intersecting codimension-two supersymmetric defects. In this talk, we will review instanton moduli spaces, explain the construction, moduli space and partition functions of tetrahedron instantons. We will also point out possible relations with M-theory index which could be a generalization of Gupakuma-Vafa theory.


2/16/2022 Takuro Mochizuki (Kyoto University) Title: Kobayashi-Hitchin correspondences for harmonic bundles and monopoles

Abstract: In 1960’s, Narasimhan and Seshadri discovered the equivalence
between irreducible unitary flat bundles and stable bundles of degree $0$ on compact Riemann surfaces. In 1980’s, Donaldson, Uhlenbeck and Yau generalized it to the equivalence between irreducible Hermitian-Einstein bundles
and stable bundles on smooth projective varieties. This is a surprising bridge connecting differential geometry and algebraic geometry. Since then, many interesting generalizations have been studied.

In this talk, we would like to review a stream in the study of such correspondences for Higgs bundles, integrable connections, $D$-modules and periodic monopoles.

2/23/2022 Bartek Czech (Tsinghua University)
3/2/2022 Richard Kenyon (Yale University)
3/9/2022 Richard Tsai (UT Austin)
3/23/2022 Joel Cohen (University of Maryland)
3/30/2022 Rob Leigh (UIUC)
4/6/2022 Johannes Kleiner (LMU München)
4/13/2022 Yuri Manin (Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik)
4/20/2022 TBA
4/27/2022 TBA
5/4/2022 Melody Chan (Brown University)
5/11/2022 TBA
5/18/2022 TBA
5/25/2022 Heeyeon Kim (Rutgers University)

Fall 2021

Date Speaker Title/Abstract
9/15/2021 Tian Yang, Texas A&M Title: Hyperbolic Geometry and Quantum Invariants

Abstract: There are two very different approaches to 3-dimensional topology, the hyperbolic geometry following the work of Thurston and the quantum invariants following the work of Jones and Witten. These two approaches are related by a sequence of problems called the Volume Conjectures. In this talk, I will explain these conjectures and present some recent joint works with Ka Ho Wong related to or benefited from this relationship.

9/29/2021 David Jordan, University of Edinburgh Title: Langlands duality for 3 manifolds

Abstract: Langlands duality began as a deep and still mysterious conjecture in number theory, before branching into a similarly deep and mysterious conjecture of Beilinson and Drinfeld concerning the algebraic geometry of Riemann surfaces. In this guise it was given a physical explanation in the framework of 4-dimensional super symmetric quantum field theory by Kapustin and Witten.  However to this day the Hilbert space attached to 3-manifolds, and hence the precise form of Langlands duality for them, remains a mystery.

In this talk I will propose that so-called “skein modules” of 3-manifolds give natural candidates for these Hilbert spaces at generic twisting parameter Psi , and I will explain a Langlands duality in this setting, which we have conjectured with Ben-Zvi, Gunningham and Safronov.

Intriguingly, the precise formulation of such a conjecture in the classical limit Psi=0 is still an open question, beyond the scope of the talk.

10/06/2021 Piotr Sulkowski, U Warsaw Title: Strings, knots and quivers

Abstract: I will discuss a recently discovered relation between quivers and knots, as well as – more generally – toric Calabi-Yau manifolds. In the context of knots this relation is referred to as the knots-quivers correspondence, and it states that various invariants of a given knot are captured by characteristics of a certain quiver, which can be associated to this knot. Among others, this correspondence enables to prove integrality of LMOV invariants of a knot by relating them to motivic Donaldson-Thomas invariants of the corresponding quiver, it provides a new insight on knot categorification, etc. This correspondence arises from string theory interpretation and engineering of knots in brane systems in the conifold geometry; replacing the conifold by other toric Calabi-Yau manifolds leads to analogous relations between such manifolds and quivers.

10/13/2021 Alexei Oblomkov, University of Massachusetts Title: Knot homology and sheaves on the Hilbert scheme of points on the plane.

Abstract: The knot homology (defined by Khovavov, Rozansky) provide us with a refinement of the knot polynomial knot invariant defined by Jones. However, the knot homology are much harder to compute compared to the polynomial invariant of Jones. In my talk I present recent developments that allow us to use tools of algebraic geometry to compute the homology of torus knots and prove long-standing conjecture on the Poincare duality the knot homology. In more details, using physics ideas of Kapustin-Rozansky-Saulina, in the joint work with Rozansky, we provide a mathematical construction that associates to a braid on n strands a complex of sheaves on the Hilbert scheme of n points on the plane.  The knot homology of the closure of the braid is a space of sections of this sheaf. The sheaf is also invariant with respect to the natural symmetry of the plane, the symmetry is the geometric counter-part of the mentioned Poincare duality.

10/20/2021 Peng Shan, Tsinghua U Title: Categorification and applications

Abstract: I will give a survey of the program of categorification for quantum groups, some of its recent development and applications to representation theory.

10/27/2021 Karim Adiprasito, Hebrew University and University of Copenhagen Title: Anisotropy, biased pairing theory and applications

Abstract: Not so long ago, the relations between algebraic geometry and combinatorics were strictly governed by the former party, with results like log-concavity of the coefficients of the characteristic polynomial of matroids shackled by intuitions and techniques from projective algebraic geometry, specifically Hodge Theory. And so, while we proved analogues for these results, combinatorics felt subjugated to inspirations from outside of it.
In recent years, a new powerful technique has emerged: Instead of following the geometric statements of Hodge theory about signature, we use intuitions from the Hall marriage theorem, translated to algebra: once there, they are statements about self-pairings, the non-degeneracy of pairings on subspaces to understand the global geometry of the pairing. This was used to establish Lefschetz type theorems far beyond the scope of algebraic geometry, which in turn established solutions to long-standing conjectures in combinatorics.

I will survey this theory, called biased pairing theory, and new developments within it, as well as new applications to combinatorial problems. Reporting on joint work with Stavros Papadaki, Vasiliki Petrotou and Johanna Steinmeyer.

11/03/2021 Tamas Hausel, IST Austria Title: Hitchin map as spectrum of equivariant cohomology

Abstract: We will explain how to model the Hitchin integrable system on a certain Lagrangian upward flow as the spectrum of equivariant cohomology of a Grassmannian.

11/10/2021 Peter Keevash, Oxford Title: Hypergraph decompositions and their applications

Abstract: Many combinatorial objects can be thought of as a hypergraph decomposition, i.e. a partition of (the edge set of) one hypergraph into (the edge sets of) copies of some other hypergraphs. For example, a Steiner Triple System is equivalent to a decomposition of a complete graph into triangles. In general, Steiner Systems are equivalent to decompositions of complete uniform hypergraphs into other complete uniform hypergraphs (of some specified sizes). The Existence Conjecture for Combinatorial Designs, which I proved in 2014, states that, bar finitely many exceptions, such decompositions exist whenever the necessary ‘divisibility conditions’ hold. I also obtained a generalisation to the quasirandom setting, which implies an approximate formula for the number of designs; in particular, this resolved Wilson’s Conjecture on the number of Steiner Triple Systems. A more general result that I proved in 2018 on decomposing lattice-valued vectors indexed by labelled complexes provides many further existence and counting results for a wide range of combinatorial objects, such as resolvable designs (the generalised form of Kirkman’s Schoolgirl Problem), whist tournaments or generalised Sudoku squares. In this talk, I plan to review this background and then describe some more recent and ongoing applications of these results and developments of the ideas behind them.
11/17/2021 Andrea Brini, U Sheffield Title: Curve counting on surfaces and topological strings

Abstract: Enumerative geometry is a venerable subfield of Mathematics, with roots dating back to Greek Antiquity and a present inextricably linked with developments in other domains. Since the early 90s, in particular, the interaction with String Theory has sent shockwaves through the subject, giving both unexpected new perspectives and a remarkably powerful, physics-motivated toolkit to tackle several traditionally hard questions in the field.
I will survey some recent developments in this vein for the case of enumerative invariants associated to a pair (X, D), with X a complex algebraic surface and D a singular anticanonical divisor in it. I will describe a surprising web of correspondences linking together several a priori distant classes of enumerative invariants associated to (X, D), including the log Gromov-Witten invariants of the pair, the Gromov-Witten invariants of an associated higher dimensional Calabi-Yau variety, the open Gromov-Witten invariants of certain special Lagrangians in toric Calabi–Yau threefolds, the Donaldson–Thomas theory of a class of symmetric quivers, and certain open and closed Gopakumar-Vafa-type invariants. I will also discuss how these correspondences can be effectively used to provide a complete closed-form solution to the calculation of all these invariants.

12/01/2021 Richard Wentworth, University of Maryland Title: The Hitchin connection for parabolic G-bundles

Abstract: For a simple and simply connected complex group G, I will discuss some elements of the proof of the existence of a flat projective connection on the bundle of nonabelian theta functions on the moduli space of semistable parabolic G-bundles over families of smooth projective curves with marked points. Under the isomorphism with the bundle of conformal blocks, this connection is equivalent to the one constructed by conformal field theory. This is joint work with Indranil Biswas and Swarnava Mukhopadhyay.

12/08/2021 Maria Chudnovsky, Princeton Title: Induced subgraphs and tree decompositions

Abstract: Tree decompositions are a powerful tool in both structural
graph theory and graph algorithms. Many hard problems become tractable if the input graph is known to have a tree decomposition of bounded “width”. Exhibiting a particular kind of a tree decomposition is also a useful way to describe the structure of a graph.

Tree decompositions have traditionally been used in the context of forbidden graph minors; bringing them into the realm of forbidden induced subgraphs has until recently remained out of reach. Over the last couple of years we have made significant progress in this direction, exploring both the classical notion of bounded tree-width, and concepts of more structural flavor. This talk will survey some of these ideas and results.

12/15/21 Constantin Teleman (UC Berkeley) Title: The Kapustin-Rozanski-Saulina “2-category” of a holomorphic integrable system

Abstract: I will present a construction of the object in the title which, applied to the classical Toda system, controls the theory of categorical representations of compact Lie groups, along with applications (some conjectural, some rigorous) to gauged Gromov-Witten theory. Time permitting, we will review applications to Coulomb branches and the categorified Weyl character formula.