Map of the Parisian mathematical scene 1933-39

. Michele Audin has written a book on the history of the Julia seminar (hat tip +Chandan Dalawat via Google+). The “Julia Seminar” was organised between 1933 and 1939, on monday afternoons, in the Darboux lecture hall of the Institut Henri Poincare. After good German tradition, the talks were followed by tea, “aimablement servi par Mmes Dubreil et Chevalley”. A… Read more →


Children have always loved colimits

If Chad Orzel is able to teach quantum theory to his dog, surely it must be possible to explain schemes, stacks, toposes and motives to hipsters? Perhaps an idea for a series of posts? It’s early days yet. So far, I’ve only added the tag sga4hipsters (pun intended) and googled around for ‘real-life’ applications of sheaves, cohomology, and worse. Sooner… Read more →


Grothendieck’s gribouillis

A math-story well worth following in 2015. What will happen to Grothendieck’s unpublished notes, or as he preferred, his “gribouillis” (scribbles)? Here’s the little I know about this: 1. The Mormoiron scribbles During the 80ties Grothendieck lived in ‘Les Aumettes’ in Mormoiron In 1991, just before he moved to the Pyrenees he burned almost all of his personal notes in… Read more →


$\mathbf{Ext}(\mathbb{Q},\mathbb{Z})$ and the solenoid $\widehat{\mathbb{Q}}$

Note to self: check Jack Morava’s arXiv notes on a more regular basis! It started with the G+-post below by +David Roberts: Suddenly I realised I hadn’t checked out Morava‘s “short preprints with ambitious ideas, but no proofs” lately. A couple of years ago I had a brief email exchange with him on the Habiro topology on the roots of… Read more →

On categories, go and the book $in$

On categories, go and the book $\in$

A nice interview with Jacques Roubaud (the guy responsible for Bourbaki’s death announcement) in the courtyard of the ENS. He talks about go, categories, the composition of his book $\in$ and, of course, Grothendieck and Bourbaki. Clearly there are pop-math books like dedicated to $\pi$ or $e$, but I don’t know just one novel having as its title a single… Read more →


A noncommutative moduli space

Supernatural numbers also appear in noncommutative geometry via James Glimm’s characterisation of a class of simple $C^*$-algebras, the UHF-algebras. A uniformly hyperfine (or, UHF) algebra $A$ is a $C^*$-algebra that can be written as the closure, in the norm topology, of an increasing union of finite-dimensional full matrix algebras $M_{c_1}(\mathbb{C}) \subset M_{c_2}(\mathbb{C}) \subset … \quad \subset A$ Such embedding are… Read more →


Oulipo’s use of the Tohoku paper

Many identify the ‘Tohoku Mathematical Journal’ with just one paper published in it, affectionately called the Tohoku paper: “Sur quelques points d’algèbre homologique” by Alexander Grothendieck. In this paper, Grothendieck reshaped homological algebra for Abelian categories, extending the setting of Cartan-Eilenberg (their book and the paper both appeared in 1957). While working on the Tohoku paper in Kansas, Grothendieck did… Read more →


Grothendieck’s Café

“A story says that in a Paris café around 1955 Grothendieck asked his friends “what is a scheme?”. At the time only an undefined idea of “schéma” was current in Paris, meaning more or less whatever would improve on Weil’s foundations.” (McLarty in The Rising Sea) Finding that particular café in Paris, presumably in the 5th arrondissement, seemed like looking… Read more →


European mathematics in 1927

Here’s a map of the (major) mathematical centers in Europe (in 1927), made for the Rockefeller Foundation. Support by the Rockefeller foundation was important for European Mathematics between the two world wars. They supported the erection of the Mathematical Institute in Goettingen between 1926-1929 and creation of the Institut Henri Poincare in Paris at about the same time. Careers of… Read more →


Quiver Grassmannians can be anything

A standard Grassmannian $Gr(m,V)$ is the manifold having as its points all possible $m$-dimensional subspaces of a given vectorspace $V$. As an example, $Gr(1,V)$ is the set of lines through the origin in $V$ and therefore is the projective space $\mathbb{P}(V)$. Grassmannians are among the nicest projective varieties, they are smooth and allow a cell decomposition. A quiver $Q$ is… Read more →


le petit village de l’Ariège

For me this quest is over. All i did was following breadcrumbs left by others. Fellow-travelers arrived there before. What did they do next? The people from the esoteric site L’Astrée, write literary texts on Grothendieck, mixing strange details (such as the kiosque de la place Pinel, the village of Fougax-et-Barrineuf and even ‘Winnie’ or ‘Fred le Belge, notre indic… Read more →


G-spots : Saint-Girons

Roy Lisker (remember him from the Mormoiron post?) has written up his Grothendieck-quest(s), available for just 23$, and with this strange blurb-text: “The author organized a committee to search for him that led to his discovery, in good health and busily at work, in September, 1996. This committee has since become the Grothendieck Biography Project. All of this is recorded… Read more →