Member Seminar 2021-22

2021-09-03 09:30 - 2021-12-17 10:30

During the 2021–22 academic year, the CMSA will be hosting a Member Seminar, organized by Therese YingYing Wu and Itamir Shamir in the Fall 2021 semester and Freid Tong and Gabriel Wong during Spring 2022. This seminar will take place on Fridays 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
1/14/2022 Max Wiesner Title: Light strings, strong coupling, and the Swampland

Abstract: In this talk, I will start by reviewing central ideas of the so-called Swampland Program. The Swampland Program aims to identify criteria that distinguish low-energy effective field theories, that can be consistently coupled to quantum gravity, from those theories that become inconsistent in the presence of quantum gravity.

In my talk I will specialize to four-dimensional effective field theories with N=2 and N=1 supersymmetry. In weakly-coupled regions of the scalar field space of such theories, it has been shown that light strings are crucial to realize certain Swampland criteria. Complementary to that, the focus of this talk will be on the role of such light strings away from these weak-coupling regimes. In this context, I will first discuss a relation between light perturbative strings and strong coupling singularities in the Kähler moduli space of 4d N=1 compactifications of F-theory. More precisely, in regions of moduli space, in which a critical string classically becomes light, I will show that non-perturbative corrections yield to strong coupling singularities for D7-brane gauge theories which obstruct weak-coupling limits. Moreover, I will demonstrate that in the vicinity of this strong coupling singularity, the critical, light string in fact leaves the spectrum of BPS strings thereby providing an explanation for the obstruction of the weak coupling limit.

I will then move on and discuss the backreaction of perturbative strings in 4d EFTs. Away from the string core, the backreaction of such strings necessarily leads to strong coupling regions where naively the energy stored in the backreaction diverges. I will show how the introduction of additional non-critical strings can regulate this backreaction and how this can be used to study the spectrum of BPS strings and their tensions even beyond weak coupling regions. In this context, I will demonstrate how the requirement, that the total string tension should not exceed the Planck scale, constrains the possible BPS string charges.

1/21/2022 Daniel Junghans Title: AdS with Scale Separation

Abstract: I will talk about Anti-de Sitter solutions in string theory with a parametric separation between the AdS curvature scale and the Kaluza-Klein scale. In particular, I will discuss recent progress on computing backreaction corrections in such solutions, and I will explain how to construct solutions without Romans mass that can be lifted to M-theory.

1/28/2022 Bong Lian Title: Singular Calabi-Yau mirror symmetry

Abstract: We will consider a class of Calabi-Yau varieties given by cyclic branched covers of a fixed semi Fano manifold. The first prototype example goes back to Euler, Gauss and Legendre, who considered 2-fold covers of P1 branched over 4 points. Two-fold covers of P2 branched over 6 lines have been studied more recently by many authors, including Matsumoto, Sasaki, Yoshida and others, mainly from the viewpoint of their moduli spaces and their comparisons.  I will outline a higher dimensional generalization from the viewpoint of mirror symmetry. We will introduce a new compactification of the moduli space cyclic covers, using the idea of ‘abelian gauge fixing’ and ‘fractional complete intersections’. This produces a moduli problem that is amenable to tools in toric geometry, particularly those that we have developed jointly in the mid-90’s with S. Hosono and S.-T. Yau in our study of toric Calabi-Yau complete intersections. In dimension 2, this construction gives rise to new and interesting identities of modular forms and mirror maps associated to certain K3 surfaces. We also present an essentially complete mirror theory in dimension 3, and discuss generalization to higher dimensions. The lecture is based on joint work with Shinobu Hosono, Tsung-Ju Lee, Hiromichi Takagi, Shing-Tung Yau.

2/4/2022 Dan Lee Title: Survey on stability of the positive mass theorem

Abstract: The Riemannian positive mass theorem states that a complete asymptotically flat manifold with nonnegative scalar curvature must have nonnegative ADM mass. This inequality comes with a rigidity statement that says that if the mass is zero, then the manifold must be Euclidean space. This naturally leads to the question of stability. In this talk, I will discuss various results related to this question.

2/11/2022 Matteo Parisi Title: Amplituhedra, Scattering Amplitudes and Triangulations

Abstract: In this talk I will discuss about Amplituhedra – generalizations of polytopes inside the Grassmannian – recently introduced by physicists as new geometric constructions encoding 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. We will discuss how the combinatorics of triangulations interplays with T-duality from String Theory, in connection with a dual object we define – the Momentum Amplituhedron. A generalization of T-duality led us to discover a striking duality between triangulations of Amplituhedra of “m=2” type and the ones of a seemingly unrelated object – the Hypersimplex. The latter is a polytope which has been central in many contexts, such as matroid theory, torus orbits in the Grassmannian, and tropical geometry. Based on joint works with Lauren Williams, Melissa Sherman-Bennett, Tomasz Lukowski [arXiv:2104.08254, arXiv:2002.06164].

2/18/2022 An Huang Title: Quadratic reciprocity from a family of adelic conformal field theories

Abstract: This talk aims to provide a physics framework to understand quadratic reciprocity. Specifically, we consider a deformation of the two-dimensional free scalar field theory by raising the Laplacian to a positive real power. It turns out that the resulting non-local generalized free action is invariant under two commuting actions of the global conformal symmetry algebra, although it is no longer invariant under the full Witt algebra. The deformation is also closely related to dimensional regularization. Furthermore, there is an adelic version of this family of conformal field theories, parameterized by the choice of a number field, together with a Hecke character. Tate’s thesis gives the Green’s functions of these theories, and ensures that these Green’s functions satisfy an adelic product formula. In particular, the local L-factors contribute to the prefactors of these Green’s functions. Quadratic reciprocity turns out to be a consequence of an adelic version of a holomorphic factorization property of this family of theories on a quadratic extension of Q. At the Archimedean place, the desired holomorphic factorization follows from the global conformal symmetry.

2/25/2022 no seminar
3/4/2022 Martin Lesourd Title: Positive Mass, Density, and Scalar Curvature on Noncompact Manifolds

Abstract: I’ll describe some recent work spanning a couple of different papers on the topics mentioned in the title: Positive Mass, Density, and Scalar Curvature on Noncompact Manifolds. Two of these are with R. Unger, Prof. S-T. Yau, and two others are with R. Unger, and Prof. D. A. Lee.

3/11/2022 no seminar
3/18/2022 Yingying Wu Title: Moduli Space of Metric SUSY Graphs

Abstract: SUSY curves are algebraic curves with additional supersymmetric or supergeometric structures. In this talk, I will present the construction of dual graphs of SUSY curves with Neveu–Schwarz and Ramond punctures. Then, I will introduce the concept of the metrized SUSY graph and the moduli space of the metric SUSY graphs. I will outline its geometric and topological properties, followed by a discussion on the connection with the classical case.

3/25/2022 Tsung-Ju Lee Title: Periods for singular CY families and Riemann–Hilbert correspondence

Abstract: A GKZ system, introduced by Gelfand, Kapranov, and Zelevinsky, is a system of partial differential equations generalizing the hypergeometric structure studied by Euler and Gauss. The solutions to GKZ systems have been found applications in various branches of mathematics including number theory, algebraic geometry and mirror symmetry. In this talk, I will explain the details and demonstrate how to find the Riemann–Hilbert partner of the GKZ system with a fractional parameter which arises from the B model of singular CY varieties. This is a joint work with Dingxin Zhang.


note special time: 9:00–10:00 am ET

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.

*special time:
8:45–9:15 am ET*
Jorn 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.

4/15/2022 Workshop on  Machine Learning and Mathematical Conjecture
4/22/2022 Math-Science Literature Lecture: Auction Theory
4/29/2022 Sergiy Verstyuk
*via Zoom only*
Title: Machine Learning the Gravity Equation for International Trade

Abstract: We will go through modern deep learning methods and existing approaches to their interpretation. Next, I will describe a graph neural network framework. You will also be introduced to an economic analogue of gravity. Finally, we will see how these tools can help understand observed trade flows between 181 countries over 68 years. [Joint work with Michael R. Douglas.]

5/6/2022 2022 NSF FRG Workshop on Discrete Shapes
5/13/2022 Juven Wang TitleCobordism and Deformation Class of the Standard Model and Beyond: Proton Stability and Neutrino Mass

Abstract: ‘t Hooft anomalies of quantum field theories (QFTs) with an invertible global symmetry G (including spacetime and internal symmetries) in a d-dim spacetime are known to be classified by a d+1-dim cobordism group TPd+1(G), whose group generator is a d+1-dim cobordism invariant written as a d+1-dim invertible topological field theory. Deformation class of QFT is recently proposed to be specified by its symmetry G and a d+1-dim invertible topological field theory. Seemly different QFTs of the same deformation class can be deformed to each other via quantum phase transitions. We ask which deformation class controls the 4d ungauged or gauged (SU(3)×SU(2)×U(1))/Zq Standard Model (SM) for q=1,2,3,6 with a continuous or discrete (B−L) symmetry and with also a compatible discrete baryon plus lepton Z_{2Nf} B+L symmetry. (The Z_{2Nf} B+L is discrete due to the ABJ anomaly under the BPST instanton.) We explore a systematic classification of candidate perturbative local and nonperturbative global anomalies of the 4d SM, including all these gauge and gravitational backgrounds, via a cobordism theory, which controls the SM’s deformation class. While many Grand Unified Theories violating the discrete B+L symmetry suffer from the proton decay, the SM and some versions of Ultra Unification (constrained by Z_{16} class global anomaly that replaces sterile neutrinos with new exotic gapped/gapless topological or conformal sectors) can have a stable proton. Dictated by a Z_2 class global mixed gauge-gravitational anomaly, there can be a gapless deconfined quantum critical region between Georgi-Glashow and Pati-Salam models — the Standard Model and beyond occur as neighbor phases. We will also comment on a new mechanism to give the neutrino mass via topological field theories and topological defects. Work based on arXiv:2112.14765arXiv:2204.08393arXiv:2202.13498 and references therein.

Fall 2021

Date Speaker Title/Abstract
9/3/2021 CMSA Welcome Event n/a
9/10/2021 Michael Simkin Title: Threshold phenomena in random graphs and hypergraphs

Abstract: In 1959 Paul Erdos and Alfred Renyi introduced a model of random graphs that is the cornerstone of modern probabilistic combinatorics. Now known as the “Erdos-Renyi” model of random graphs it has far-reaching applications in combinatorics, computer science, and other fields.

The model is defined as follows: Given a natural number $n$ and a parameter $p \in [0,1]$, let $G(n;p)$ be the distribution on graphs with $n$ vertices in which each of the $\binom{n}{2}$ possible edges is present with probability $p$, independent of all others. Despite their apparent simplicity, the study of Erdos-Renyi random graphs has revealed many deep and non-trivial phenomena.

A central feature is the appearance of threshold phenomena: For all monotone properties (e.g., connectivity and Hamiltonicity) there is a critical probability $p_c$ such that if $p >> p_c$ then $G(n;p)$ possesses the property with high probability (i.e., with probability tending to 1 as $n \to \infty$) whereas if $p << p_c$ then with high probability $G(n;p)$ does not possess the property. In this talk we will focus on basic properties such as connectivity and containing a perfect matching. We will see an intriguing connection between these global properties and the local property of having no isolated vertices. We will then generalize the Erdos-Renyi model to higher dimensions where many open problems remain.

9/17/2021 Itamar Shamir TitleGeometry, Entanglement and Quasi Local Data

Abstract: I will review some general ideas about gravity as motivation for an approach based on quasi local quantities.

9/24/2021 Puskar Mondal Title: Stability and convergence issues in mathematical cosmology

Abstract: The standard model of cosmology is built on the fact that while viewed on a sufficiently coarse-grained scale the portion of our universe that is accessible to observation appears to be spatially homogeneous and isotropic. Therefore this observed `homogeneity and isotropy’ of our universe is not known to be dynamically derived. In this talk, I will present an interesting dynamical mechanism within the framework of the Einstein flow (including physically reasonable matter sources) which suggests that many closed manifolds that do not support homogeneous and isotropic metrics at all will nevertheless evolve to be asymptotically compatible with the observed approximate homogeneity and isotropy of the physical universe. This asymptotic spacetime is naturally isometric to the standard FLRW models of cosmology. In order to conclude to what extent the asymptotic state is physically realized, one needs to study its stability properties. Therefore, I will briefly discuss the stability issue and its consequences (e.g., structure formation, etc).

10/1/2021 Jue Liu Title: Instability of naked singularities in general relativity

Abstract: One of the fundamental problems in mathematical relativity is the weak cosmic censorship conjecture, proposed by Penrose, which roughly states that for generic physical spacetime, the singularities (if existed) must be hidden behind the black holes. Unfortunately, the singularities visible to faraway observers, which are called by naked singularities, indeed exist. The first example constructed by Christodoulou in 1994 is a family of self-similar spherically symmetric spacetime, in which the naked singularity forms due to a self-gravitating scalar field. Therefore the suitable censorship conjecture should be reduced to prove the instability of the naked singularities. In 1999 Christodoulou succeeded to prove the weak cosmic censorship conjecture in spherically symmetric cases, and recently the co-author and I found that the corresponding results have a big probability to be extended to spacetime without symmetries. In this talk I will discuss how to prove the instability of naked singularities using the energy method, and it is this wild method that helps us to extend some results to the asymmetric cases.

10/8/2021 Michael Douglas Title: Knowledge Graph Embeddings and Inference

Abstract: A knowledge graph (KG) is a data structure which represents entities and relations as the vertices and edges of a directed graph.
Two examples are Wikidata for general knowledge and SemMedDB for biomedical data.
A popular KG representation method is graph embedding, which facilitates question answering, inferring missing edges, and logical reasoning tasks.
In this talk we introduce the topic and explain relevant mathematical results on graph embedding.
We then analyze KG inference into several mechanisms: motif learning, network learning and unstructured statistical inference, and
describe experiments to measure the contributions of each mechanism.

Joint work with M. Simkin, O. Ben-Eliezer, T. Wu, S. P. Chin, T. V. Dang and A. Wood.

10/15/2021 Juven Wang Title: C-P-T Fractionalization, and Quantum Criticality Beyond the Standard Model

Abstract: Discrete spacetime symmetries of parity P or reflection R, and time-reversal T, act naively as a Z2-involution on the spacetime
coordinates; but together with a charge conjugation C and the fermion parity (−1)^F, these symmetries can be further fractionalized forming nonabelian C-P-R-T-(−1)^F group structures, in various examples such as relativistic Lorentz invariant Dirac spinor quantum field theories (QFT), or nonrelativistic quantum many-body systems (involving Majorana zero modes). This result answers Prof. Shing-Tung Yau’s question on “Can C-P-T symmetries be fractionalized more than involutions?” based on arxiv:2109.15320.

In the second part of my talk, I will sketch to explain how can we modify the so(10) Grand Unified Theory (GUT) by adding a new topological term such that two GUTs of Georgi-Glashow and Pati-Salam can smoother into each other in a quantum phase transition, where the Standard Model and new dark sector physics can occur naturally near the critical region. The new modified so(10) GUT requires a double Spin structure that we name DSpin. This phenomenon is inspired by the “deconfined quantum criticality” in condensed matter. Based on arxiv:2106.16248.

10/22/2021 Du Pei Title: Wall-crossing from Higgs bundles to vortices

Abstract: Quantum field theories can often be used to uncover hidden algebraic structures in geometry and hidden geometric structures in algebra. In this talk, I will demonstrate how such “wall-crossing” can relate the moduli space of Higgs bundles with the moduli space of vortices.

10/29/2021 Freid Tong Title: The complex Monge-Ampere equation in K\”ahler geometry

Abstract: The complex Monge-Ampere equations occupies an central role in K\”ahler geometry, beginning with Yau’s famous solutions of the Calabi conjecture. Later developments has led to many interesting geometric applications and opening of new fields. In this talk, I will introduce the complex Monge-Ampere equation and discuss the interplay between their analysis and geometry, with a particular focus on the a priori C^0 estimates and their various applications. In the end, I will also try to discuss some recent work with B. Guo and D.H. Phong on a new approach for proving sharp C^0 estimates for complex Monge-Ampere equations, this new approach avoids the machinery of pluripotential theory that was previously necessary and has the advantage of generalizing to a large class of fully nonlinear equations.

11/5/2021 Chuck Doran Title: The Greene-Plesser Construction Revisited

Abstract: The first known construction of mirror pairs of Calabi-Yau manifolds was the Greene-Plesser “quotient and resolve” procedure which applies to pencils of hypersurfaces in projective space. We’ll review this approach, uncover the hints it gives for some more general mirror constructions, and describe a brand-new variant that applies to pencils of hypersurfaces in Grassmannians. This last is joint work with Tom Coates and Elana Kalashnikov (arXiv:2110.0727).

11/12/2021 Gabriel Wong
11/19/2021 Kan Lin Title: China’s financial regulatory reform, financial opening-up, and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

Abstract: In this talk, I will explain the overall situation of China’s financial industry and review the development of China’s financial regulatory system reform from 1949 to 2021. Then, I will explain the policies of the 3 stages of financial opening-up, 2001–08, 2008–18, 2018≠present. In particular, the latest round of opening-up from 2018 has brought great opportunities for foreign institutions. China has the world’s largest banking industry with assets totalling $53 trillion, and accounts for 1/3 of the growth in global insurance premiums over the next 10 years. I will also introduce the progress of research & development of China’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC, or E-CNY). By October 2021, 140 million people had opened E-CNY wallets, and 1.6 million merchants could accept payments using eCNY wallets, including utilities, catering services, transportation, retail and government services.

12/3/2021 Dan Kapec Title: Black Holes, 2D Gravity, and Random Matrices

Abstract: I will discuss old and new connections between black hole physics, 2D quantum gravity, and random matrix theory. Black holes are believed to be very complicated, strongly interacting quantum mechanical systems, and certain aspects of their Hamiltonians should be well approximated by random matrix theory. The near-horizon effective dynamics of near-extremal black holes is two-dimensional, and many theories of 2D quantum gravity are known to have random matrix descriptions. All of these expectations were recently borne out in surprising detail with the solution of the Jackiw-Teitelboim (JT) model, but this result raises more questions than it answers. If time permits, I will discuss some extensions of these results and possible future directions.

12/10/2021 Changji Xu Title: On the solution space of the Ising perceptron model

Abstract:  Consider the discrete cube $\{-1,1\}^N$ and a random collection of half spaces which includes each half space $H(x) := \{y \in \{-1,1\}^N: x \cdot y \geq \kappa \sqrt{N}\}$ for $x \in \{-1,1\}^N$ independently with probability $p$. The solution space is the intersection of these half spaces. In this talk, we will talk about its sharp threshold phenomenon, the frozen structure of the solution space, and the Gardner formula.