Clay–Mahler lectures (2), University of NSW

Name:Clay–Mahler lectures (2), University of NSW
Calendar:1-day meetings & lectures
When:Wed, September 16, 2009, 3:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Clay MI logoThe Mahler lectures are a biennial activity organised by the Australian Mathematical Society. In 2009 we have partnered with the Clay Mathematical Institute to combine the Mahler Lectures and the Clay Lectures into the 2009 Clay–Mahler Lecture Tour, with funding also from the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.


  • Wed. 16th Sept. in room 4082 of the Red Centre, UNSW at 4:00pm; seminar lecture, by Danny Calegari (Caltech): Faces of the Stable commutator length ball.

UNSW Maths logo

  • Wed. 16th Sept. in Leighton Hall, Scientia Building at UNSW, 6:00pm; public lecture (evening), by Terence Tao (UCLA): Structure and Randomness in the Prime Numbers.
Lecture slides in PDF format (~850 kb)

Both events will be at the University of NSW.

Abstract: (Calegari) Faces of the Stable commutator length ball

The scl (stable commutator length) answers the question: what is the simplest surface in a given space with prescribed boundary? where simplest is interpreted in topological terms. This topological definition is complemented by several equivalent definitions:

  • in group theory, as a measure of non-commutativity of a group; and
  • in linear programming, as the solution of a certain linear optimization problem.

On the topological side, scl is concerned with questions such as computing the genus of a knot, or finding the simplest 4-manifold that bounds a given 3-manifold. On the linear programming side, scl is measured in terms of certain functions called quasimorphisms, which arise from hyperbolic geometry (negative curvature) and symplectic geometry (causal structures).

We will discuss how scl in free and surface groups is connected to such diverse phenomena as the existence of closed surface subgroups in graphs of groups, rigidity and discreteness of symplectic representations, bounding immersed curves on a surface by immersed subsurfaces, and the theory of multi-dimensional continued fractions and Klein polyhedra.

Abstract: (Tao) Structure and Randomness in the Prime Numbers

God may not play dice with the universe, but something strange is going on with the prime numbersPaul Erdős.

The prime numbers are a fascinating blend of both structure (for instance, almost all primes are odd) and randomness. It is widely believed that beyond the obvious structures in the primes, the primes otherwise behave as if they were distributed randomly; this pseudorandomness then underlies our belief in many unsolved conjectures about the primes, from the twin prime conjecture to the Riemann hypothesis. This pseudorandomness has been frustratingly elusive to actually prove rigorously, but recently there has been progress in capturing enough of this pseudorandomness to establish new results about the primes, such as the fact that they contain arbitrarily long progressions. We survey some of these developments in this talk.

Location:University of NSW, Sydney, Australia Map
Created:06 Jun 2009 03:00 am UTC
Modified:18 Sep 2009 07:13 am UTC
Updated: 18 Sep 2009