Monthly Archives: August 2018

How to succeed

My new kitten is a highly successful cat — at least he’s successful against me. To find the silver lining in my defeat, I’ve been cataloging the secrets of his success. They turn out, with minimal translation, to be valid advice for mathematicians or, really, for anyone.

  1. If you’re being dragged away, concentrate on what you can take with you.
  2. Don’t worry for a second about how failing makes you look.
  3. If the direct approach is being guarded, try cozying up to your target gradually.
  4. Always have two projects on the go: if one is being guarded, the other may not be.
  5. Be ready to eat anything.
  6. Keep to a schedule.
  7. Patrol regularly for opportunities.

The most powerful secret is not available to the rest of us.

  1. Be charming in the way only a cat can be.

And some probably aren’t good advice.

  1. Always attack people wiping something with a paper towel.

Photo: Mackey Functor at five months, 6 lbs 3 oz.

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Go Canada!

I’m honored to be visiting America’s virtuous neighbor to the north to speak in the PIMSUBC Math Distinguished Colloquium on Friday, September 14, 2018.

Title: Birational geometry and algebraic cycles

Abstract: A fundamental problem of algebraic geometry is to determine which algebraic varieties are rational, that is, isomorphic to projective space after removing lower-dimensional subvarieties from both sides. We discuss the history of the problem. Some dramatic progress in the past 5 years uses a new tool in this context: the Chow group of algebraic cycles.

On the day before, Thursday, September 13, I’ll speak in the UBC Algebraic Geometry seminar.

Title: Hodge theory of classifying stacks

Abstract: The goal of this talk is to create a correspondence between the representation theory of algebraic groups and the topology of Lie groups. The idea is to study the Hodge theory of the classifying stack of a reductive group over a field of characteristic p, the case of characteristic 0 having been studied by Behrend, Bott, Simpson and Teleman. The approach yields new calculations in representation theory, motivated by topology.

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