Event Details
2012 Lester J. Senechal Lecture: Donal O'Shea: Singularities: The Next Generation
Event Type:Lecture/Reading
Location:305 Kendade
 
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
4:00 PM
Calendars:
Featured Events,Lectures & Symposia
Contact:
Laurie Kamins
413-538-2162
Department:Mathematics/Statistics
The 2012 Lester J. Senechal Lecture will be given by Donal O'Shea, president of New College of Florida and former vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at MHC.
 
In his lecture, "Singularities: The Next Generation (aka: When is a Cone not a Cone?)," O'Shea will give a non-technical account of what he considers to be one of the most exciting mathematical advances of the last two decades: "... a beautiful new theory that is transforming our understanding of the topology and geometry of complex algebraic singularities.
 
His abstract in full:
 
I will provide a non-technical account of what I regard to be one of the most exciting mathematical advances of the last two decades. It has been known for over a half a century that near an isolated singular point, the set of solutions of a polynomial in several variables can be complicated (it often fails to be a manifold), but not so complicated as to be inaccessible (it looks like, in the topological sense, a cone over a lower dimensional manifold, called the link of the singularity). The associated theorem, and the study of manifolds that occur as links produced a flowering of deep insights into the structure of singularities, and is closely related to some of the greatest achievements of twentieth century mathematics. Until recently, no one thought to ask whether the set of solutions actually looks like a cone in any geometrical sense. A few years ago, two Brazilian mathematicians showed that, once the number of variables is greater than two, the answer is no. Their work on explanations of this phenomenon, together with work of other interested mathematicians, point to a beautiful new theory that is transforming our understanding of the topology and geometry of complex algebraic singularities. I will explain using two examples that are accessible to undergraduate mathematics majors, what is at stake and what the excitement is about.
 
The Lester J. Senechal Lecture is presented by Mount Holyoke College's Connecticut Valley Mathematics Colloquium.
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