Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Xiao Ming

Thursday, June 25, 2020
2:00 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Xiao Ming
Supervisor:   Stevo Todorcevic
Thesis title:  Borel Chain Conditions


The subject matter of this Thesis is an instance of the Chain Condition Method of coarse classification of Boolean algebras and partially ordered sets. This method has played an important role in the measure theory, the theory of forcing, and the theory of Martin type axioms.

We focus on the posets that are Borel definable in Polish spaces and investigate the connections between the chain condition method and the chromatic numbers, a classification scheme for graphs. We then introduce Borel version of some classical chain condition and show that the Borel poset $T(\pi\mathbb{Q})$, the Borel example Todorcevic used to distinguish $\sigma$-finite chain condition and $\sigma$-bounded chain condition, cannot be decomposed into countably many Borel pieces witnessing the $\sigma$-finite chain condition, despite the fact that the non-Borel such partition exists. Starting from there, we use the variations on the $G_0$-dichotomy analyzed to construct a number of examples of Borel posets of the form $\mathbb{D}(G)$ that the new hierarchy of Borel chain conditions is proper.

A copy of the thesis can be found here:  Thesis_revised_202006210421

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Abhishek Oswal

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
2:00 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Abhishek Oswal
Supervisor:   Jacob Tsimerman
Thesis title: A non-archimedean definable Chow theorem


O-minimality has had some striking applications to number theory. The utility of o-minimal structures originates from the remarkably tame topological properties satisfied by sets definable in such structures. Despite the rigidity that it imposes, the theory is sufficiently flexible to allow for a range of analytic constructions. An illustration of this `tame’ property is the following surprising generalization of Chow’s theorem proved by Peterzil and Starchenko – A closed analytic subset of a complex algebraic variety that is also definable in an o-minimal structure, is in fact algebraic. While the o-minimal machinery aims to capture the archimedean order topology of the real line, it is natural to wonder if such a machinery can be set up over non-archimedean fields. In this thesis, we explore a non-archimedean analogue of an o-minimal structure and prove a version of the definable Chow theorem in this context.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: thesis-draft-v4

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Ren Zhu

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
2:00 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Ren Zhu
Supervisor:   Kumar Murty
Thesis title:  The least prime whose Frobenius is an $n$-cycle

Let $L/K$ be a Galois extension of number fields.  We consider the problem of bounding the least prime ideal of $K$ whose Frobenius lies in a fixed conjugacy class $C$. Under the assumption of Artin’s conjecture we work with Artin $L$-functions directly to obtain an upper bound in terms of irreducible characters which are nonvanishing at $C$.   As a consequence we obtain stronger upper bounds for the least prime in $C$ when many irreducible characters vanish at $C$.  We also prove a Deuring-Heilbronn phenomenon for Artin $L$-functions with nonnegative Dirichlet series coefficients as a key step.
We apply our results to the case when $\Gal(L/K)$ is the symmetric group $S_n$.  Using classical results on the representation theory of $S_n$ we give an upper bound for the least prime whose Frobenius is an $n$-cycle which is stronger than known bounds when the characters which are nonvanishing at $n$-cycles are unramified, as well a similar result for $(n-1)$-cycles.
We also give stronger bounds in the case of $S_n$-extensions over $\mathbb{Q}$ which are unramified over a quadratic field.  We also consider other groups and conjugacy classes where unconditional improvements are obtained.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: Ren Zhu PhD Thesis

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Mykola Matviichuk

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
1:00 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Mykola Matviichuk
Supervisor:   Marco Gualtieri
Thesis title:  Quadratic Poisson brackets and co-Higgs fields

This thesis is devoted to studying the geometry of holomorphic Poisson brackets on complex manifolds. We concentrate on the case when the underlying manifold admits a structure of a vector bundle, and the Poisson bracket is invariant under the dilation action of the multiplicative group of the field of complex numbers. We call such a Poisson bracket quadratic, and associate to it a Higgs type tensor, which we call a co-Higgs field. We study the interplay between these two geometric structures. A parallel theory is developed for Poisson brackets on projective bundles. Using the classical tool of the spectral correspondence available for co-Higgs fields, we construct many new examples of Poisson brackets, and provide new classification results in low dimensional cases.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: Quadratic_Poisson_brackets_and_co_Higgs_fields

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Beatriz Navarro Lameda

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served in the Math Lounge before the exam.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
11:00 a.m.

PhD Candidate:  Beatriz Navarro Lameda
Supervisor:   Kostya Khanin
Thesis title:  On Global Solutions of the Parabolic Anderson Model and Directed Polymers in a Random Environment


This thesis studies global solutions to the semidiscrete stochastic heat equation and the associated Cauchy problem known as Parabolic Anderson Model. Via a Feynman-Kac formula, it is linked with the analysis of directed polymers in random environment, and this thesis establishes a number of results for the corresponding partition function.
We consider a continuous-time simple symmetric random walk on the integer lattice $\Z^d$ in dimension $d \geq 3$, subject to a random potential given by two-sided Wiener processes. In the high-temperature regime, we prove the existence of the $L^2$- and almost sure limit of the partition function as time $t \to \pm \infty$. We show that the $L^2$-convergence rate is at least polynomial and that the limiting partition function is positive almost surely. Furthermore, we show that this limiting partition function defines a global stationary solution to the semidiscrete stochastic heat equation which is unique up to a rescaling, and which in some sense attracts solutions to the Parabolic Anderson Model for any subexponentially growing initial data. One of the primary tools in the proof of this uniqueness and attraction result is a factorization formula for the point-to-point partition function, which is related to the ones obtained by Sinai (1995) and Kifer (1997) for other polymer models, but valid not only on the diffusive scale but up to any sub-ballistic scale. This factorization formula allows us to obtain a uniqueness result for physical invariant probability measures of a certain skew product that can be naturally associated with the semidiscrete stochastic heat equation, which in turns gives uniqueness of global stationary solutions.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: Navarro-Lameda_PhDThesis

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Debanjana Kundu

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served in the Math Lounge before the exam.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
2:00 p.m. (sharp)

PhD Candidate:  Debanjana Kundu
Supervisor:   Kumar Murty
Thesis title:  Iwasawa Theory of Fine Selmer Groups


Iwasawa theory began as a Galois module theory of ideal class groups, initiated by Kenkichi Iwasawa as part of the theory of cyclotomic fields.In the early 1970’s, Barry Mazur considered generalizations of Iwasawa theory to Selmer groups of elliptic curves (Abelian varieties in general).  At the turn of this century, Coates and Sujatha initiated the study of a subgroup of the Selmer group of an elliptic curve called the \textit{fine} Selmer group.

The focus of this thesis is to understand arithmetic properties of this subgroup. In particular, we understand the structure of fine Selmer groups and their growth patterns. We investigate a strong analogy between the growth of the $p$-rank of the fine Selmer group and the growth of the $p$-rank of the class groups. This is done in the classical Iwasawa theoretic setting of (multiple) $\ZZ_p$-extensions; but what is more striking is that this analogy can be extended to non-$p$-adic analytic extensions as well, where standard Iwasawa theoretic tools fail.

Coates and Sujatha proposed two conjectures on the structure of the fine Selmer groups. Conjecture A is viewed as a generalization of the classical Iwasawa $\mu=0$ conjecture to the context of the motive associated to an elliptic curve; whereas Conjecture B is in the spirit of generalising Greenberg’s pseudonullity conjecture to elliptic curves. We provide new evidence towards these two conjectures.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: Debanjana_thesis

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Yvon Verberne

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served in the Math Lounge before the exam.

Monday, March 30, 2020
10:00 a.m.

PhD Candidate:  Yvon Verberne
Supervisor:   Kasra Rafi
Thesis title:  Pseudo-Anosov homeomorphisms constructed using positive Dehn twists


The mapping class group is the group orientation preserving homeomorphisms of a surface up to isotopy. The mapping class group encodes information about the symmetries of a surface. We focus on studying the pseudo-Anosov mapping classes, which are the elements of the group that mix the underlying surface in a complex way. These maps have applications in physics, notably in fluid dynamics, since we can stir a disk of fluid to create topological chaos, and in the study of magnetic fields since pseudo-Anosov maps create odd magnetic fields. Pseudo-Anosov maps also appear in industrial applications such as food engineering and polymer processing.

We introduce a construction of pseudo-Anosov homeomorphisms on $n$-times punctured spheres and surfaces with higher genus using only sufficiently many positive half-twists. These constructions can produce explicit examples of pseudo-Anosov maps with various number-theoretic properties associated to the stretch factors, including examples where the trace field is not totally real and the Galois conjugates of the stretch factor are on the unit circle.

We construct explicit examples of geodesics in the mapping class group and show that the shadow of a geodesic in mapping class group to the curve graph does not have to be a quasi-geodesic. We also show that the quasi-axis of a pseudo-Anosov element of the mapping class group may not have the strong contractibility property. Specifically, we show that, after choosing a generating set carefully, one can find a pseudo-Anosov homeomorphism $f$, a sequence of points $w_k$ and a sequence of radii $r_k$ so that the ball $B(w_k, r_k)$ is disjoint from a quasi-axis $a$ of $f$, but for any projection map from the mapping class group to $a$, the diameter of the image of $B(w_k, r_k)$ grows like $\log(r_k)$.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: Verberne_Yvon_ML_202006_PhD_thesis

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Travis Ens

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served in the Math Lounge before the exam.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
1:00 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Travis Ens
Supervisor:   Dror Bar-Natan
Thesis title:   On Braidors: An Analogue of the Theory of Drinfel’d Associators for Braids in
an Annulus


We develop the theory of braidors, an analogue of Drinfel’d’s theory of associators in which braids in an annulus are considered rather than braids in a disk.  After defining braidors and showing they exist, we prove that a braidor is defined by a single equation, an analogue of a well-known theorem of Furusho [Furusho (2010)] in the case of associators. Next some progress towards an analogue of another key theorem, due to Drinfel’d [Drinfel’d (1991)] in the case of associators, is presented. The desired result in the annular case is that braidors can be constructed degree be degree. Integral to these results are annular versions \textbf{GT}$_a$ and \textbf{GRT}$_a$ of the Grothendieck-Teichm\”uller groups \textbf{GT} and \textbf{GRT} which act faithfully and transitively on the space of braidors.

We conclude by providing surprising computational evidence that there is a bijection between the space of braidors and associators and that the annular versions of the Grothendieck-Teichm\”uller groups are in fact isomorphic to the usual versions potentially providing a new and in some ways simpler description of these important groups, although these computations rely on the unproven result to be meaningful.

A copy of the thesis can be found here:  ens_thesis

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Justin Martel

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served in the Math Lounge before the exam.

Friday, August 9, 2019
2:10 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Justin Martel
Supervisor:   Robert McCann
Thesis title:  Applications of Optimal Transport to Algebraic Topology: A Method for Constructing Spines from Singularity


Our thesis describes new applications of optimal transport to algebraic topology. We use a variational definition of singularity based on semicouplings and Kantorovich duality, and develop a method for building Spines (Souls) of manifolds from singularities. For example, given a complete finite-volume manifold X we identify subvarieties Z of X and construct continuous homotopy-reductions from X onto Z using the above variational definition of singularities.

The main goal of the thesis is constructing compact Z with maximal codimension in X. The subvarieties Z are assembled from a contravariant functor arising from Kantorovich duality and solutions to a semicoupling program.

The program seeks semicoupling measures from a source (X,σ) to target (Y, τ) which minimize total transport with respect to a cost c. Best results are obtained with a class of anti-quadratic costs we call “repulsion costs”. We apply the above homotopy-reductions to the problem of constructing explicit small-dimensional EΓ classifying space models, where Γ is a finite-dimensional Bieri-Eckmann duality group.

A copy of the thesis can be found here: ut-thesis

Departmental PhD Thesis Exam – Li Chen

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served in the Math Lounge before the exam.

Friday, July 26, 2019
2:10 p.m.

PhD Candidate:  Li Chen
Supervisor:   Michael Sigal
Thesis title:  Macroscopic Electrostatics at Positive Temperature from the Density Functional Theory


The purpose of this thesis is to study local perturbations of equilibrium crystalline states of the density functional theory (DFT) at positive temperature through the Kohn-Sham equations with local-density approximation (LDA). Under suitable scaling and at low temperature, we prove an existence result for the Kohn-Sham equations and show that local macroscopic perturbations from periodic equilibrium states gives rise to the Poisson equation as an effective equation.

A copy of the thesis can be found here:  LiChen_thesis