Fields Medalists and Topology and Thesis Research and…

Today, I spent the day at IAS, listening to Alex Eskin talk about Teichmuller dynamics.

I don’t know why, but I somehow struggle on some deeper level when it comes to that topic. These talks always start relatively similarly with billiards and the (non-)existence(?) of periodic orbits thereof before providing a dictionary between billiards and Riemann surface theory, an introduction to basic notions in ergodic theory (Ergodic, Uniquely Ergodic…), and then – apparently at some point when my brain shuts down – there’s really deep stuff including conjectures by Fields medalists, etc. etc. Somehow, I understand all the pieces before brain shut-down, but even so, the shut down always seems to happen and leave me scratching my head and wondering wtf happened during.

Maybe it’s a tumor.

I’ve been focusing  more on stuff about universal circles. In particular, I’ve found some other documents online that summarize the Calegari-Dunfield paper a bit, and I’ve been using Calegari’s wonderful book to help get new views on things. It’s slow, but it’s progressing way better than it ever has.

Last week, there were three Minerva lectures at Princeton University by Maryam Mirzakhani. The creative ways in which she applies and broadens the scope of hyperbolic geometry is staggering, and as much as I’d like to say I understood a lot of things, I understood very small fragments of a handful of things. It was an amazing experience that I’ll cherish for a long time, but man – I was so tangibly outclassed during that it was almost embarrassing. Wonderful, but (almost) embarrassing.

Besides that, I’ve been working: Mostly boring monotonous things for Wolfram with the exception of breaking Wolfram|Alpha today, and then finally some progress on fixing the very badly-done FSU Financial Math pages. It’s a lot happening, but it’s all mostly enjoyable and I like being kept busy, etc. Always good.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for my progress on things that matter), I haven’t typed up any more interesting proofs or anything. At some point, I hope I can blog regularly without feeling like I’m missing out on more important things but honestly? Now is not that time.

I hope this finds everyone well, and if I don’t see you again first: Happy holidays!

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Update

Despite my hope to the contrary, it would appear that the math I’ve done while here so far as not parlayed into me blogging super-frequently. For what it’s worth: Life is busy. Just in case you were wondering. ^_^

Lately, I’ve been working from home more than I’ve been going to Princeton/IAS. My goal is to change that soon and I actually had a wonderful day at IAS today. I’d like to go tomorrow but I have a work meeting at the least convenient time one can imagine; there’s also no topology seminar at the University tomorrow, so I suppose I’ll be staying in and working again. No harm no foul, I suppose.

So what have I been working on? Well:

  • Universal Circles for Depth-One Foliations of 3-Manifolds. The gist here is: If you have a taut (e.g.) foliation on a 3-manifold, a theorem of Candel says we can find a metric on all the leaves so that they’re hyperbolic. Moreover, by tautness, you can lift to a foliation of the universal cover which is then a foliation whose leaves are hyperbolic discs. A ridiculously deep idea of Thurston was to look at the infinite circle boundaries of these disk leaves and maybe…glue them together? Canonically? And see if that gives insight about things?

    You probably already know how this ends: It’s doable (because he’s Thurston) and it does provide deep insight about the downstairs manifold (see, e.g., the articles by Calegari & Dunfield and/or Fenley, or Calegari’s book…)

    Now, let’s say we do this for certain classes of kind-of-understood-but-still-unknown-enough-to-be-interesting foliations like those of finite depth. Can we get cool manifold stuff by doing this process? I dunno, but maybe.

  • Homologies. My ATE was about Gabai’s work on foliating sutured manifolds, so studying sutured manifolds is something I’m still interested in. One way of doing that nowadays is with this colossal, ridiculously-powerful tool called Sutured Floer homology. So…you know…homology…but when talking with other grad students about the millions of homologies out there and about how nobody really understands what motivates discovers of them, I realized that there was a lot I needed to know before focusing on one homology foreverever. So I’m working on learning stuff about homologies.
  • Geometric Group Theory. Ian Agol is at IAS this year as the distinguished visitor and a lot of his work is on relationships between GGT and 3-manifolds. If you listen to any talk relating those two things, you realize there’s this whole dictionary of words and acronyms like QCERF and LERF and RAAG and Virtually SpecialResidually Finite, etc. etc. I think in order to someday bridge the gap towards doing work like those guys do, I need to know what all these words mean, and what better time to figure that out than right now?! So yea…I’m doing that some, too.
  • Dirac Operators, Spin manifolds,…. At some point soon, I’m going to start working on hypercomplex geometry again, and part of that will be the study of Dirac operators. So far, there are lots of perspectives on those, so we’re going to try to first establish the explicit connections between them and then maybe…do some stuff? I dunno. I also have stuff on Clifford analysis / geometry I want to look at, as well as some more things involving generalized geometries. Lots here.
  • Topological Quantum Computing. This is a pipe dream until I’m able to feed my family and progress on my dissertation. It’s on the radar, though.

Okay, so this was an update! I’ve also been bookmarking some interesting proofs I’ve run across so I’ll know where to look when I decide to expand things here, and…yea.

Oh! And my professional webpage finally exited alpha and went into beta! http://www.math.fsu.edu/~cstover.

And now, Morrrr…se homology. Morse homology. That’s what I’m looking at as a segue into Floer. Another late night ftw!

Later.

Travel Update Finale, or The Times They Are A-Changin’

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Reading, and reading, and teaching, and reading, and reading, and…

So, to summarize the direction of my most recent mathematical endeavors: I woke up and decided that part of my aspiration was to become a geometric topologist, and I did that despite the fact that topology is (far and away) my worst subject.

That sounds precisely as terrible as it probably is.

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What’s been goin’ on…

So, I’ve been doing a piss-poor job of keeping this part of the internet pruned and tended to, etc. I’ve decided to stop in and give this thing a good once-over with how the semester’s been going now that the semester is (finally) nearing its end.

  • My teaching assignment this semester was awful. I’ve been unimpressed mostly throughout.
  • I gave two seminar talks at FSU’s complex analysis seminar: Complex Structures on Manifolds and Constructing Complex Manifolds Using Lie Groups. The first went pretty okay; the second was very spur of moment and came when I was in the middle of battling the flu and was unsurprisingly less-good.
  • I’ve had two bouts of exams so far this semester and have managed to escape both with A averages.
  • I recently concluded the two mandatory class-related presentations I had for the semester: I talked about Frobenius’ Theorem on the integrability of k-plane distributions for my Riemannian Geometry class, and about Hyperkähler manifolds for my class on Complex Manifolds. Like above, the first of these was pretty okay and the second was kinda “meh”.
  • I picked doctoral advisors.

That last point is one I’m particularly happy about.

As I tend to do, I managed to pick a path that’s not the standard among students (from what I can tell) in that I picked two advisors who work in two totally unrelated fields. Be that as it may, however, I’ll officially be under the tutelage of Drs. Sergio Fenley and Craig Nolder who – respectively – study geometric topology and hypercomplex analysis/geometry. For Dr. Fenley, I’m going to be studying various aspects of foliation theory; for Dr. Nolder, I think I’m going to be studying various aspects of lots of different things.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Currently, then, I’m in the process of balancing end-of-semester duties and candidacy prep duties, which means I basically haul giant stacks of books around with me 24/7 and try to read any time my eyes/brain aren’t needed for something else. It’s exhausting and nerve-wracking and brain-intensive and amazing and surreal. I literally can’t express how excited I am.

When classes start back on Monday, there will be one week of non-finals classes followed by one week of finals; over the course of those two weeks, I’ll have lots of TAing to do and lots of exams to take. When those weeks are over, though, I’ll be enveloping myself in reading roughly 20 hours a day.

Or thereabouts.

I think that’s about all I’ve got presently. I’ve been on the look-out for various fellowship/scholarship opportunities, as well as various summer programs and internships, etc. I’ll try to post progress on those fronts (and others, too) here as I remember. Between all that, I think it’s safe to say that my updating of Hatcher solutions is on the (very very far) back burner for a bit, but if I’m able, I plan to spend time going through, correcting the screw-ups that exist (believe me, there are many) and trying to get generally better-familiarized with the techniques necessary to master that material.

Maybe Dr. Fenley will help. 🙂

Until next time….

Week 3, Day 1 or Properties of Lie Brackets

Today is the first day of the third week of the semester. I know that counting down like this is going to make it seem longer than it already seems, but it seems so long that I can’t seem to help remaining conscious of the precise time frame I’m dealing with.

Such is life, I suppose.

I’ve noticed an amusing trend in my page views involving solutions from Dr. Hatcher’s book, namely that I’ve been receiving an abnormally-high level of page views lately, almost all of which seem to center on those solutions. I guess that means that the semester has started elsewhere too and that people find topology as difficult and frustrating as I do.

For those of you who fit this bill and who are reading this right now: My plan is to start doing more problems ASAP, so that page might get its first update in quite a while.

Today, though, I want (read: need) to talk about differential geometry. In particular, we spent some time in class last week discussing the Lie bracket and its properties, and because we have a derivation of one particular property, I wanted to take the time to put that here for my own benefit.

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