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Special Offerings

2021-2022 Special Course Offerings

Undergraduate Special Topics

AUTUMN 2021  Math 180/380: Athreya  - Radicant Mathematics

Radicant, n. Taking root on, or above, the ground; rooting from the stem, like the trumpet creeper and the ivy.

Mathematics is a precise language for systematic pattern recognition. It is enriched by contributions and developments in many different cultural contexts, and by diverse groups of people. This course will explore the widely varied roots of mathematics, from Latin America to Asia to Africa and the Mediterranean world, and discuss how mathematics has been enriched by the contributions by a wide range of people and civilizations across history. The term radicant, borrowed from botany, seems to capture some aspects of this multivalent evolution.

Students taking it as Math 180/380 would be expected to include mathematical content in their final paper reflective of their background in mathematics. This could include an explanation of the particular mathematics involved in their research paper, written in a way that is accessible to a current student. For Math 380, this mathematical content should be more advanced, and written in a way that reflects the additional background and maturity of the students, with an exploration of proofs and conjectures in the mathematics that they are discussing.

Textbooks: Our main textbook will be The Crest of the Peacock: the non-European roots of Mathematics by George Gheverghese Joseph, supplemented by Mathematics in India by Kim Plofker and African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design, by Ron Eglash, and other books and articles.

Prerequisites: A deep interest in mathematics and completion of any of the College of Arts and Science Q/SR courses.

To register for MATH 180, email   



Winter 2022  Math 180/380: Athreya  -  Making Meaning: Art and Mathematics as Embodied Practices

What does it mean to make meaning? To make objects that have meaning? We will explore, via projects of making, a continuing dialogue between two seemingly disparate disciplines: art and mathematics. We’ll tackle a wide variety of questions about creativity, process, social history, and justice, via hands-on experimentation and making. Using logic and imagination in creative problem solving, students will expand the scope of their making, mathematical and artistic, and communication skills.

The class emphasizes learning by making, each assignment is going to be reviewed and discussed in class. In addition, students will receive personalized feedback on each completed making project. The final project will be an opportunity for self-reflection/self-evaluation and project documentation in the form of a final report open-media project. This project that emphasizes a dialogic reflection on the making process and helps tell the story of what the student learned in and contributed to the course.

Graduate Special Topics 2021-2022

524/525/534: Reals and Complex

The first two quarters of this class ("Math 524 and 525") will be devoted to Real Analysis. Autumn quarter will cover the fundamentals of measure theory and Lebesgue integration. Topics include functions of bounded variation and absolute continuity, the fundamental theorem of calculus, and the Radon-Nikodym theorem. Winter  quarter will cover elements of the theory of functional analysis. Topics include the fundamental theorems for Banach and Hilbert spaces;  L^p spaces; and the Riesz representation theorem for L^p and C(X).

The third quarter of this class ("Math 534") will concentrate on Complex Analysis. It will cover the basic theory of analytic functions from complex numbers to power series to contour integration, Cauchy's theorem and applications.

561A: Billey - Foundations of Combinatorics
Fall Quarter: Enumerative Combinatorics

Summary: This three quarter topics course on Combinatorics includes Enumeration, Polytopes, and Algebraic Combinatorics.  Combinatorics has connections to all areas of mathematics, industry and many other sciences including biology, physics, computer science, and chemistry. We have chosen core areas of study which should be relevant to a wide audience.  The main distinction between this course and its undergraduate counterpart will be the pace and depth of coverage.  In addition we will assume students have a substantial knowledge of linear and abstract algebra.  We will include many unsolved problems and directions for future research.  New students are welcome to join in Winter or Spring with approval from the instructor depending on prior background.

Fall Quarter = Enumerative Combinatorics. Every discrete process leads to questions of existence, enumeration and optimization.  This is the foundation of Combinatorics.  In this quarter we will present the basic combinatorial objects and methods for counting various arrangements of these objects.

--  Basic counting methods.
--  Sets, multisets, permutations, and graphs.
--  Inclusion-exclusion.
--  Recurrence relations and integer sequences.
-- Generating functions.
-- Partially ordered sets.
-- Complexity Theory

562 A: Novik - Polytopes

Polytopes are very simple objects (defined as the convex hull of a finite set of points in Rd, or equivalently as a bounded intersection of finitely many closed half-spaces in Rd), yet they have a very rich and continuously developing theory. While 3-dimensional polytopes are well understood, a lot of facts that are obvious in dimension three are either false or unknown in higher dimensions. (For instance, does every d-dimensional centrally symmetric polytope have at least 3d faces? Can the number of i-dimensional faces of a polytope be smaller than both the number of its vertices and the number of its top-dimensional faces? These questions are still open except for a few small values of d.)
In this course, we will mainly concentrate on certain combinatorial and geometric aspects of polytopes. Specifically, depending on time and interest, we'll discuss some of the following topics:
(1) Introduction to polytopes: convex sets in general (separation theorem,
Radon's and Caratheodory's theorems); polarity, equivalence of H-polytopes and V-polytopes, the face lattice of a polytope.
(2) Graphs of polytopes -- "classical" results: Steinitz's theorem for 3-polytopes; Balinski's theorem; reconstructing simple polytopes from theirgraphs.
(3) Graphs of polytopes -- this century results: Santos's counterexample to the Hirsch conjecture; positive results towards the polynomial Hirsch conjecture.
(4) Face numbers of simplicial polytopes: the Dehn-Sommerville relations; the upper and the lower bound theorems; the g-theorem and its consequences; face numbers of centrally symmetric polytopes.
(5) Gale diagrams and various counterexamples: polytopes with few vertices, non-rational polytopes, non-polytopal spheres.

Textbooks: There will be no official textbook. Instead, we'll use quite a few sources (potentially including several recent papers). Some of the textbooks that will be handy are
(1) Lectures on polytopes by Gunter Ziegler, revised first edition.
(2) Convex polytopes by Branko Grunbaum, 2nd edition, 2003.
(3) Lectures on Discrete Geometry by Jiri Matousek, 2002.
(4) A course in convexity by Alexander Barvinok, 2002.

Grades: Grading will be mostly based on homework problem sets. A part of your grade may also come from presenting a research article.

Prerequisites: This class will be accessible to first year graduate students. Good
understanding of Linear Algebra and basics of metric spaces should be enough.

563 A: R. Liu - Algebraic Combinatorics

Algebraic combinatorics is the study of the interaction between algebraic objects, such as rings and group representations, and combinatorial objects, such as permutations and tableaux. This course will cover three closely related areas-- the ring of symmetric functions, the combinatorics of Young tableaux, and the representation theory of the symmetric group-- and highlight the connections between them.
Topics will include:
--the five bases of symmetric functions, Hall inner product, the Cauchy identity, the involution w, the Jacobi-Trudi identity, quasisymmetric functions;
--Young tableaux, the hook length formula, the RSK correspondence, growth diagrams, Littlewood-Richardson rules, jeu de taquin;
--representation theory of the symmetric group, the Frobenius characteristic map, the Murnaghan-Nakayama rule, Schur-Weyl duality.
Additional topics may be covered depending on time and interest.

References: This course will use custom notes, loosely following these texts:
--Sagan, The Symmetric Group: Representations, Combinatorial Algorithms, and Symmetric Functions, Springer, 2nd edition, 2001.
--Stanley, Enumerative Combinatorics, Volume 2, Cambridge University Press, 1st edition, 1999.
--Fulton, Young Tableaux: with Applications to Representation Theory and Geometry, Cambridge University Press, 1st edition, 1996.

Grades: Grades will be based on occasional homework.

Prerequisites: Some familiarity with enumerative combinatorics (Math 561) is recommended.

564 A and 565 A : Devinatz - Algebraic Topology

This is intended to be an introduction to homology and cohomology, with perhaps a little homotopy theory. We will cover simplicial complexes and CW-complexes; singular, simplicial, and cellular homology; and products and universal coefficient theorems. We will end with Poincare Duality, which gives a very strong result on the behavior of the homology and cohomology of a compact manifold.

Prerequisites: The first year courses in algebra and manifolds are more than sufficient. A lot less is really necessary, so if you haven't completed these sequences, please see me if you are interested in registering for the course.

581 B and 582 A: Shokrieh - Non-Arch Geometry

Description: The main goal is to introduce Berkovich's theory of analytic spaces. This generalizes the notion of complex manifolds, where complex numbers is replaced by a general valued field, including p-adic numbers or formal Laurent series.
The general theory has applications in various fields, including tropical geometry, arithmetic/Arakelov geometry, combinatorics, complex geometry, dynamics, local Langlands program, etc. If time permits, some of these applications will be discussed (especially the first three in this list, which are close to the instructor's research). Students can also study some of these applications as a course project. In any case, we hope to cover enough of the basic concepts and constructions so that participants can start studying advanced research papers
on the subject.

Topics: Some general theory of valued fields and the basics of Berkovich's theory will certainly be covered. Other topics could include rigid analytic spaces, formal schemes, tropical geometry, as well as some applications. The exact emphasis on the material will be decided based on the audience.

References: There will be no official textbook. We will use various sources, including some research papers.

Prerequisites: The graduate algebra sequence (preferably also some basic algebraic geometry background), or permission from the instructor.

Course will be offered remotely.

581 A: Chen - Gaussian Free Field

Gaussian free field is a Guassian random field. It is a prominent model for random surfaces. Its discrete version can be defined on any graph. The continuum Gaussian free field, which is a natural generalization of Brownian motion defined on the positive halfline, can be thought as Brownian random surface defined on Rd or its subdomains.

The Gaussian free field (GFF) has been one of the main building blocks in mathematical physics, especially in the theory of Quantum Fields. It becomes a focus of intense research in mathematics during the past 15 years due to its various connectionsto diverse areas including Schramm-Lowner evolutions, random planar maps, Liouville quantum gravity and random matrices.

In this course, we will give a gentle introduction to the mathematical theory of Gaussian free fields as well as some of its recent advances. The following is a tentative list of the topics that this course may cover. It contains more material than what we can cover in one course. The final selection of the topics may depend on the interests of the audience.
1. Discrete Gaussian free field on graphs
2. Continuum Gaussian free field on Euclidan spaces
3. Properties of GFF: Markov property, conformal invariance and local sets
4. Liouville measure and random surfaces
5. KPZ relation of GFF
6. Liouville Brownian motion and Liouville heat kernel
7. Liouville quantum gravity metric

Prerequisites: Measure theory and basic knowledge in Probability theory at undergraduate
level (such as M424/5/6 and M394/5/6). Basic knowledge about Brownian motion
will be helpful.

581 C: McGovern - Geometry of Flag Variety

The course is based on Fulton’s book “Young Tableaux” together with some of my own research. I will cover the Schur-Weyl construction of irreducible polynomial representations of GL_n via semistandard Young tableaux and its applications to the coordinate ring of the flag variety, together with Young’s construction of irreducible representations of symmetric groups. I will then talk about singularities of various subvarieties of the flag variety
and combinatorial methods for detecting and analyzing them.

Prerequisite: Knowledge of the basic structure theory of complex semi simple Lie algebras, as covered for
example in the course devoted to them in the second-year algebra sequence.

581 D: Pal - Optimal Transport + Machine Learning

This is an online PIMS class on Monge-Kantorovich Optimal Transport and its applications to Machine Learning (OT+ML). This is a part of a sequence of courses on Optimal Transport and applications that PIMS has approved and is open to all PIMS campuses and folks from the industry. In fall 2020, the first iteration, OT + Economics, was taught by Brendan Pass from U. Alberta. Students from UW who took this course got credit as in math 600.

We will have evening classes (via zoom) from 5:30 p.m. till 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays (twice per week). Classes start on Sep 30 and end on Nov 30. 

You will need to know the first year real analysis sequence to follow. Some familiarity with probability, statistics, linear optimization, ML, and python/R programming is helpful but not absolutely necessary.

581 E: Toro - Measure Theory

This course will be a continuation of the Introduction to Geometric Measure Theory course taught in the Spring of 2021 by the same instructor. In this course we will build on the material from the previous course, we will introduce the notion of rectifiable varifolds. Their development was motivated by a classical problem in calculus of variations, namely the existence of minimal submanifolds. Varifolds play a crucial role in the study of
questions concerning existence and regularity of minimal submanifolds. In some sense they provide the
starting point for analyzing this problem in higher co-dimensions. The study of the dimension one case will be discussed in the Spring 2021 course. The monotonicity formula and several of its applications will be presented. Allard's regularity theorem with be discussed in detail. One of the aims of the course is to present some of the recent results concerning anisotropic energies. The guiding principle behind most of the material to be discussed in this course is that measure theoretic properties combined with the variational attributes of an object imply smoothness.
The course will loosely follow F. Maggi's book Sets of Finite Perimeter and Geometric Variational Problems and L. Simon's book: Lectures in Geometric measure theory. Some of the applications will come from recent papers.

Tentative plan
1. Anisotropic surface energies
2. Regularity theory and analysis of singularities for perimeter minimizers (co-dimension
1 case)
3. Theory of rectifiable varifolds - Monotonicity formulae & Applications
4. Allard regularity theorem

Prerequisites: Math 524-525, Introduction to GMT (Spring 2021) or instructor's approval.

581 J: Alper - Topics in Scheme Theory

This course will cover advanced topics in the theory of schemes with an emphasis on examples.  We will cover themes not usually covered in UW's first year algebraic geometry course.  Topics will include (1) properties of flat, smooth, and etale morphisms of schemes, (2) cohomology and base change theorems, and (3) representability of Grassmanian, Hilbert, and Quot functors.  Further topics may be covered depending on the interests of the participants.

582 B: Pevtsova - Algebraic Groups

Linear algebraic groups, such as the general linear group GLN, the special orthogonal group SON or the symplectic group SpN can be introduced in a number of different ways. In this course, we will take the functorial approach to the study of linear algebraic groups (more generally, affne group schemes) equivalent to the study of Hopf algebras. The classical view of an algebraic group as a variety will come up as a special case of a smooth algebraic group scheme. Our algebraic approach will be independent (even complementary) to the analytic approach taken in the course on Lie groups. The first part of the course will follow an excellent introductory text by W. Waterhouse.
Topics at a glance:
-Group schemes and Hopf algebras, and translating between the two;
-Representations: modules vs. comodules;
-Examples and special cases: abelian group schemes and Cartier duality, etale group schemes, matrix groups, groups of multiplicative type (tori), unipotent groups, nilpotent and solvable groups (i.e. Borel subgroups of semisimple groups);
-Lie algebras;
-Geometric properties: connectedness, irreducibility, smoothness;
-Faithful flatness, quotients, and factor groups.
Upon developing tools for working with group schemes and Hopf algebras we will pursue the goal of classifying semisimple algebraic groups.
-Structure theory for split semisimple algebraic groups: maximal tori, root systems, Weyl groups and Dynkin diagrams;
-Root datum and classification theorem.

Prerequisites: Modern Algebra 504/5/6. The second year graduate algebra course \Algebraic structures" is desirable but not required. The course will be suitable for a 2nd year or above graduate student leaning towards an algebra-related field (understood broadly: combinatorics, number theory, representation theory, algebraic geometry, algebraic topology). The book by Waterhouse is pretty much self-contained, with an appendix covering the necessary fundamental facts from algebra.
Introduction to Affine Group Schemes, W. Waterhouse;
Representations of Algebraic Groups, J. Jantzen;
The book of Involutions, M-A Knus, A. Merkurjev, M. Rost, J-P. Tignol;
Algebraic groups: the theory of group sschemes of finite type over a field,
(5-7) Linear Algebraic groups, A. Borel; J. Humphreys; T. Springer (these are
three different books!)

582 C: Hoffman - Self-Organized Criticality

Self-organized criticality is a term used to describe a number of spatial stochastic processes. These systems evolve in time through a series of small perturbations to the system followed by a stabilization phase. In this course we will discuss the conjectures that physicists survey the most common models that are thought to exhibit self organized criticality and the conjectures about these models. We will also discuss recent results about two of these models, activated random walk and the stochastic sandpile model.

 582 D and 583 D: Thomas - Linear Algebra

This is two quarter graduate linear algebra. Linear Algebra is one of the most important skills a student going into industry can have these days, so I believe this is an important basic sequence for us to maintain. It will be
accessible to first year graduate students, needing only undergraduate linear algebra as a

Topics to be covered:
1. Eigenvalues
2. Unitary and normal matrices
3. Canonical forms
4. Hermitian and symmetric matrices
5. Norms of vectors and matrices
6. Perturbation theory
7. Positive semidefinite matrices
8. Nonnegative matrices
These are the 8 chapters of Horn and Johnson’s book. In addition, I might cover a few selected
topics from the book “Numerical Linear Algebra” by Trefethan and Bau.

Recommended Book: Matrix Analysis by Horn and Johnson

582E: J. Lee - Complex Manifolds

Definition and examples of complex manifolds, almost complex structures, and integrability;
holomorphic vector bundles; line bundles and hypersurfaces; Hermitian connections; Hermitian and
Kähler metrics; sheaves and cohomology; Hodge theory; the Kodaira embedding theorem; and (if time
permits) a brief introduction to Kähler-Einstein metrics and Calabi-Yau manifolds.

Topology, smooth manifolds, Riemannian geometry, vector bundles, and undergraduate complex analysis.

582 F: Drouot - Semiclassical Analysis

Description: Semiclassical analysis studies the relation between classical and quantum mechanics. Its key achievement explains mathematically how Newton's law emerges from the Schrodinger equation. This class will have two essential components:
1. Semiclassical techniques: symplectic geometry, WKB approximation, stationnary phase lemma, pseudodifferential operators.
2. Applications: tight-binding approximations, Hamiltonian dynamics, coherent states, spectral asymptotics.

Textbook: Dimassi-Sjostrand, Spectral asymptotics in the semi-classical limit, London

Prerequisite: Math 524-525 and some basic knowledge of manifolds. Please contact me if you are not sure that you meet the prerequisite.

Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series, 268.

582 G: Vinzant - Convex Algebraic Geometry

Convex algebraic geometry involves the study of convex objects defined by real polynomial inequalities using the interplay of their convex and algebraic structure, with a special emphasis on those appearing in convex optimization. This class will introduce basic notions and techniques in real algebraic geometry,
convexity, and conic optimization. Topics include semidefinite programming, sums of squares, moment problems, hyperbolic and stable polynomials, and applications in combinatorics and optimization.
1) Semidefinite Optimization and Convex Algebraic Geometry, edited by Grigoriy Blekherman, Pablo A. Parrilo and Rekha R. Thomas.
2) A Course in Convexity, by Alexander Barvinok
3) Hyperbolicity and stable polynomials in combinatorics and probability, by Robin Pemantle

Prerequisites: The only prerequisite is a solid background in linear algebra. Some familiarity with concepts from convexity and algebra will be helpful but is not required.

583 B: Zhang - Noncommutative Algebra

This course is an introduction to noncommutative algebra. In addition to basic material, we will present some latest developments in this area.
1. Artin-Schelter regular algebras, duality and Calabi-Yau property.
2. Noncommutative invariant theory, Chevalley-Shephard-Todd theorem on regularity, Watanabe theorem on Gorenstein property.
3. Classification of prime Hopf algebras of low Gelfand-Kirillov dimension.
4. Quiver representations, finite/tame/wild representation types, Frobenius-Perron dimension.
There will be three or four homework assignments and students are encouraged
to do homework.

Prerequisites: Math 502/3/4 (and second-year graduate algebra is also helpful).

583 C: Lieblich - Model Theory

Course description coming soon