Member Seminar 2021–22

During the 2021–22 academic year, the CMSA will be hosting a Member Seminar, organized by Itamar Shamir and Yingying Wu. 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

DateSpeakerTitle/Abstract
1/14/2022Max WiesnerTitle: 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. 
1/21/2022Daniel Junghans

Fall 2021

DateSpeakerTitle/Abstract
9/3/2021CMSA Welcome Eventn/a
9/10/2021Michael SimkinTitle: 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.
9/17/2021Itamar ShamirTitle: Geometry, Entanglement and Quasi Local Data

Abstract: I will review some general ideas about gravity as motivation for an approach based on quasi local quantities.   
9/24/2021Puskar MondalTitle: 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). 
10/1/2021Jue LiuTitle: 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.
10/8/2021Michael 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.
10/15/2021Juven WangTitle: 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.
10/22/2021Du PeiTitle: 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.
10/29/2021Freid TongTitle: 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. 
11/5/2021Chuck DoranTitle: 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).
11/12/2021Gabriel Wong 
11/19/2021Kan LinTitle: 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.
12/3/2021Dan KapecTitle: 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.
12/10/2021Changji XuTitle: 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.

12/17/2021

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