What is... ? seminar

Time and place: Usually every second Friday 15:15, Auditorium 8. Talks are 30 minutes plus 15 minutes of questions.

Inspired by a column in the Notices of the AMS with the same title, this seminar is intended to be accessible and not too technical. Speakers explain in one lecture some object or theorem that they think is interesting, aiming at an audience of PhD-students and post-docs. For inspiration, see the list of columns that have appeared in the Notices http://arminstraub.com/math/what-is-column or the list on the bottom.

The seminar has two main objectives. First it aims to give people the opportunity to get a taste of mathematics that is slightly beyond their academic horizons. This should promote a better understanding of the intricacies of other mathematical disciplines and may eventually lead to interdisciplinary collaboration. Secondly the seminar should provide a relaxed environment for people to discuss the general ideas of their field of research with the added benefit of a blackboard and some preparation. For both objectives the key is: accessibility.

Although the intended audience is PhD-students and post-docs, others (in particular master students) are welcome to join as well. Volunteers for talks, please email whatismathku@gmail.com. Note: it is possible to give talks on any available Friday.

The organizers are currently in the process of making a schedule for the coming months. If you would like to give a talk soon, please contact the organizers at  whatismathku@gmail.com or approach them around the  math department.

The current organizers of the What is....? seminar are:  Joshua Hunt, Niels Olsen, Vibeke Quorning and Martin Speirs.

Go to the archived schedule of the academic year 2015-16 or to the  archived schedule of the academic year 2014-15.

Schedule 2016-17

  • a group with insolvable word problem (10th Feb)
  • What do braids and lattices have in common? (24th Feb)
  • quantum mechanics (10th March)
  • a Calabi-Yau manifold (to be rescheduled)
  • Newton's method (21st April)
  • forcing (5th May)

Example Topics:

  • a random group
  • a height function
  • a fundamental (homotopy) group
  • a foliation
  • a point process
  • a martingale measure
  • an almost periodic function
  • arbitrage
  • a parabolic equation
  • a PROP
  • a random matrix
  • an operad
  • Homological Stability
  • Conformal Field Theory
  • a deformation
  • a quasi-coherent sheaf
  • twisted K-Theory
  • the geometrization conjecture
  • a Kan extension
  • a Topological Field Theory
  • a Calabi-Yau manifold
  • a formal group law
  • a topos
  • a G-spectrum
  • a moduli space of curves
  • a Gauge theory
  • a Category
  • a Jones Polynomial
  • stochastic topology
  • a barcode