Events: Department Colloquium and Lecture Series

  • László Babai will give a talk entitled "Graph Isomorphism in Quasipolynomial Time III: The 'Split-or-Johnson routine'" in Ryerson 251, 3pm–4pm on Tuesday, December 1. Refreshments will be served before the talk in Ryerson 255. More details can be viewed here.

  • Curtis McMullen will give a talk entitled "A skeptical history of numbers" in GCIS room W301/W303, 3pm–4pm on Monday, December 7. Reception begins at 2:30PM, and light refreshments provided. More details can be viewed here.


  • On Saturday, October 24, the Young Scholars Program held its first meeting of the year. The program is a deep experience in mathematical thought and effort for students from 7th grade to 12th grade. It recently received attention in the University of Chicago news.

  • This past Saturday, October 3, Raghavan Narasimhan passed away. Narasimhan was a beloved and highly respected member of the department of mathematics for over 40 years.

    Narasimhan was an analyst’s analyst. Much of his work was in Several Complex Variables, but he had a deep interest in analytic number theory, as well. Besides his well known solution of the Levi problem for complex spaces (which was the topic of his 1962 ICM talk in Stockholm -- notable for being a year before he received his doctorate), other noteworthy achievements are his surprising proof in a 1960 paper that an open Riemann surface can be embedded in complex three-space as a closed analytic subvariety and his 1967 paper with Armand Borel showing that holomorphic maps to fixed-point-free quotients of bounded domains are determined by a base-point and the corresponding homomorphism on the fundamental group, which might well be the first paper which demonstrates the power of pluri-subharmonicity in attacking problems concerning monodromy. His papers with K.Chandrasekharan on Approximate Functional Equations, subsequently found applications to automorphic forms. In the 1990s, Narasimhan and Charles Fefferman wrote a series of joint papers on the borderline of analysis and real algebraic geometry. Their results answered questions arising in the work of A. Parmeggiani on the symplectic geometry associated to the symbol of a pseudodifferential operator. The phenomena are subtle and surprising and the proof is formidable and related to a remarkable collection of geometric and analytic ideas.

    Narasimhan was a friend to many in the department. We appreciated his unique view of the world and his exquisite and uncompromising taste in mathematics. His love of mathematics never diminished even when he had stopped doing much research himself. He was fascinated by the work on twin primes and was immersing himself in the work of Maynard in recent months.

    Given his achievements, it is not surprising that he received accolades from the profession. One noteworthy example is an honorary doctorate from the University of Geneva, the citation for which can be found here.

    Narasimhan is survived by his wife Lynn, his spouse of more than 45 years, who is a mathematician at DePaul.

    There will be a memorial to Professor Narasimhan on Saturday, December 5, 2pm–4:30pm at the Quadrangle Club.
  • We are very proud to announce that Simion Filip has won the prestigious Harper Dissertation Fellowship. For more information, please see here. — July 19, 2015
  • We are very happy to congratulate our colleague, Laci Babai, the George and Elizabeth Yovovich Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics, who has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For some more information, see here. — April 29, 2015
  • We are happy to congratulate Alex Eskin, Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics, on being elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Please see here for the announcement. — April 28, 2015
  • There was recently a conference in honor of Sid Webster and his many important contributions to Complex Analysis and Geometry. You might enjoy perusing the photos linked to the conference web site. — April 14, 2015
  • We are happy to congratulate Takis Souganidis, who has been elected as a Fellow of SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) "for contributions to the theory and numerical solution of both deterministic and stochastic partial differential equations and their applications."

    For more information, please see the website. — April 8, 2015
  • The Chicago Public School science fair will be awarding $2500 in prizes for outstanding math research projects this year and into the future. The top prize, $233 (prime AND Fibonacci!), will be named in honor of Professor Sally, in honor of his incredible impact in bringing high-quality mathematics to students in Chicago. The awards paragraph will read:

    *Paul J. Sally, Jr. Prize for Outstanding Mathematical Research by a Young Mathematician*

    One (1) award of $233 to an outstanding work of research in mathematics

    Professor Paul J. Sally, Jr. (1933-2013) was a professor of mathematics and, for more than 30 years, the director of undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago. It is likely that no single person has had as much impact as Professor Sally in ensuring that students across the city of Chicago learn high-quality mathematics. Professor Sally was one of the founders of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, a textbook and curriculum production team that proved that ordinary elementary and high school students could learn deep, genuine mathematics thoughtfully and well and whose materials are used throughout Chicago and indeed the United States to this day. The SESAME program, which he started and ran for over 20 years, brought hundreds of practicing elementary and high school teachers to the University of Chicago to learn mathematics from professors of the highest caliber. The summer program he co-founded in 1988, the Young Scholars Program, continues to serve hundreds of students each year, teaching mathematics from tessellations to Galois Theory to children in grades 6-12, while training undergraduate and graduate students in the arts of teaching and mathematical research. Many of the people Professor Sally taught became mathematicians, but among Chicago's mathematics teachers (and teachers of mathematics teachers) are dozens of his own students, all of whom aspire to provide children with the kinds of exciting mathematics they experienced with Professor Sally. — March 1, 2015
  • We are very proud of our fourth year student Anne Marsden who has won the prestigious Churchill Fellowship to study at Cambridge. Congratulations, Anne! More details can be found at here. — January 22, 2015
  • This year, Simion Filip has received the department's Izaak Wirszup memorial prize for excellence in research. Simion works on the geometry and dynamics of the moduli space of abelian differentials on surfaces. Katharine Turner has won the Nadine Kowalsky prize. Katharine's work is on applied algebraic topology. The award is established through a bequest from Walter and Yvonne Kowalsky in memory of their daughter Nadine Kowalsky, who died of leukemia in 1996. Nadine graduated from the University of Chicago in 1994 with a dissertation directed by Robert Zimmer. — October 29, 2014
  • We are happy to announce that Professor Grigori Margulis of Yale University will be receiving an honorary doctorate at our coming convocation. Margulis's work has changed several areas of mathematics and been an inspiration to many of the members of our department.— May 29, 2014
  • Congratulations to Jun Hou Fung, Benjamin Gammage, Sarah Peluse, Jesse Silliman, and Weston Ungemach for receiving the Mathematics Department's Cohen Prize. The Paul R. Cohen Memorial Prize is awarded to the graduating seniors in the field of Mathematics who have achieved the highest record in mathematics. Congratulations, also, to Sarah Peluse on receiving an NSF graduate fellowship.

    We are also proud of and congratulate our graduating Honors Candidates.— May 16, 2014
  • Carlos Kenig was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. For more information, please see here. — April 29, 2014.
  • Congratulations to Maryanthe Malliaris for being a recipient of a Sloan Foundation research fellowship. Please see here and here for more details. — February 18, 2014
  • We are very happy to congratulate our current graduates Galyna Dobrovolska and Ilya Gekhtman who have received NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships and Alex Wright who has received a Clay Fellowship. They will be going to Columbia, Yale and Stanford respectively. — February 13, 2014
  • Paul Sally has been named as the first recipient of the AMS Award for Impact on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics. Happily, he received word of this award in late December of last year. — January 9, 2014
  • The mathematical world and the University of Chicago lost one of its beloved and honored members on December 30, 2013. Paul Sally was a specialist in harmonic analysis on semi-simple groups and a renowned educator.

    Paul received his Ph.D. in 1965 from Brandeis and then moved to the University of Chicago as an instructor. He quickly moved up the ranks on the basis of his excellent work on representation theory of p-adic groups, and was the chairman from 1977-1980. Since 1984, Paul was Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Mathematics department, where he has had enormous impact on the undergraduate program at the University of Chicago. Paul also had 19 Ph.D. students whose accomplishments gave him great satisfaction.

    Paul’s seminal work with Joseph Shalika on SL(2) in the late 1960s ushered in an era of rapid development in harmonic analysis on reductive p-adic groups, an area of mathematics that lies at the intersection of many mathematical fields including number theory, algebra, analysis, and geometry. Within this area, Paul’s research focused on questions surrounding the Plancherel formula, specifically the computation of the characters of irreducible representations and the explicit understanding of the Fourier transforms of orbital integrals. As a mentor and agitator in this and allied fields, his influence extended well beyond his own work.

    Moreover, Paul’s influence on mathematics extended far beyond the research work that he and his collaborators and students produced. He was involved with the Chicago Public Schools starting in 1969, when he ran a math competition and conducted classes for students and teachers. From 1983 to 1987 he was the first director of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP). In 1992, Paul founded the Seminars for Elementary Specialists and Mathematics Educators (SESAME), a staff development program for elementary school teachers in Chicago public schools. Since the program’s inception, more than 600 teachers from 125 schools have participated in SESAME. In 1988, Paul, together with Diane Herrmann, began another enterprise, the University of Chicago Young Scholars Program for mathematically talented 7-12 grade students. The Mathematics department has recruited faculty from among the graduates of this program.

    Paul also had a large role in the administration of the AMS (American Mathematical Society), having served in the Council and the Executive committee and as a trustee as well as several other committees over the years. He also was on the advisory committee for the mathematical sciences at the NSF. He served on two influential National Academy committees on mathematics education, and was recognized by numerous awards for his contributions to teaching: among his distinctions, Paul won the Quantrell Award for excellent undergraduate teaching at the University, and the Haimo award of the Mathematical Association of America. He was a fellow of the AMS.

    Paul was a great believer in Mathematics and in the possibilities of people to achieve. He was an inspiration to many with his indomitable spirit. He constantly demanded from instructors and students complete devotion to Mathematics, and was remarkably successful in eliciting this: it is impossible to give a blind double amputee excuses for shirking. Paul held his views strongly, and was always willing to express and defend them. (He first came to prominence within the university community for opposing the harsh treatment of Vietnam War protesting students, thereby gaining a reputation as a radical.) He loved a good argument, but in the end, felt that the way to accomplish things was by doing, not by talking. Paul had indeed accomplished much, although he has left many unfinished plans - he was among those who believed that if you are working on project that can be completed in one lifetime, then you are thinking too small. We will miss him.

    Paul is survived by his wife Judy, three sons David, Steven and Paul III, and their families.

    There is a fascinating video interview with Paul in the Simons foundation’s Science Lives Project, which features in-depth interviews with "some giants of twentieth century mathematics and science.". Other recent interviews can be found at here, here and pp 6-7 of here.

    Please see here for an obituary of Paul Sally by the University. — January 2, 2014
  • We are happy to congratulate Amie Wilkinson for her election as a Fellow of the AMS in the 2013 class of Fellows "for contributions to dynamical systems". — January 2, 2014
  • Benson Farb will be giving the joint MAA-AMS address at the annual joint meeting in January. His talk will be on on Braids, Homology and Polynomials: An Emerging Pattern in Algebra and Topology - See more at here. — December 19, 2013
  • We are very happy to congratulate Sarah Peluse for winning the Alice T. Schafer prize for Excellence in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Woman of the AWM. She will receive it at the annual meeting of the AMS. For more information, please see here. — December 16, 2013
  • We are happy to congratulate Shmuel Weinberger on his election as a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. For more details, see here. — December 5, 2013
  • Matt Emerton, Benson Farb, Wilhelm Schlag and Luis Silvestre will be speaking at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul this coming summer, in Number Theory, Topology, Analysis and Partial Differential Equations, respectively. For more information, see here.— October 31, 2013
  • The recent issue of PNAS contains the announcement of Maryanthe Malliaris's solution, with Saharon Shelah, of the longstanding "p = t" problem in set theory. It also contains a commentary explaining something about the problem and some of its context. — August 20, 2013
  • The AMS calendar has a wonderful series of mathematical images. This month's image is the work of Diane Herrmann, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies. You can see it here (PDF, images may take some time to load). — August 12, 2013
  • We are happy to announce that Greg Lawler has been appointed the George Wells Beadle Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics and Statistics. — July 29, 2013


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