This seminar series is jointly organised by the universities of Amsterdam (Thomas Rot and Rob Vandervorst), Leiden (Federica Pasquotto) and Utrecht (Alvaro del Pino Gomez). The seminar aims to introduce a wide audience (starting at a master level) into various research areas in differential topology and geometry. Every meeting is a three-hour minicourse starting with an introduction to the field and ending with a discussion of open problems. Previous knowledge about the topic is not assumed. We strongly encourage master students with an interest in topology and geometry to attend. Please send an email to spam@math.leidenuniv.nl to be added to the mailing list. However, change spam into f.pasquotto.

The fall seminars will be held online due to the pandemic. Zoom information can be found below. Lectures will be posted on our Youtube channel .

Both talks

This is a link to a dropbox folder. Gabriele was so kind do share his slides, and in addition write a full paper on this talk!

Here is a nice "what is" introduction to systolic geometry.

In their classical formulation, systolic inequalities aim to study
Riemannian metrics on a givencompact surface by looking at the length of
the shortest non-constant periodic geodesic, also known as the systole.
One of the fundamental questions in the field is to find an upper bound,
independent of the metric, for the systolic length when the metric has
unit area.

After briefly discussing this question in general, we will concentrate
on the case of the two-sphere. Here an interesting class of metrics pops
up: Those for which all geodesics are systoles. Abbondandolo, Bramham,
Hryniewicz and Salomao showed recently that these so-called Zoll metrics
locally maximize the systolic length in the space of Riemannian metrics
on the two-sphere.

Their proof uses symplectic techniques and will lead us, in the second
talk, to consider an analogue of systoles and of Zoll metrics for
contact hypersurfaces inside symplectic manifolds. In the contact world,
global upper bounds for the systole do not hold but Zoll hypersurfaces
still remain local maximizers for the systolic length.

These phenomena are related to the famous Viterbo conjecture in
symplectic geometry about the capacity of convex domains in euclidean
space, which will finally bring us to the frontier of current research.

First lecture

Second lecture

The slides

Afterwards I will present a variety of results on the topological complexity of configurdation spaces that naturally occur in robotics in the study of simultaneous motion planning for multiple robots moving in the same workspace that are supposed not to collide while performing their tasks. In the end, I will present some recent results and outline some current directions of research.

First lecture

Second lecture

Lecture notes (Warning: Large file (99 mb))

In the first part of the seminar we will discuss what are sub-Riemannian structures,
where do they come from and what are some of the major properties and open
questions, using some famous examples to drive the discussion.
For this part of the talk I will only assume some basic knowledge of Riemannian
geometry and calculus of variation.

In the second part of the talk, we will discuss recent advances in sub-Riemannian
spectral geometry, focussing in particular on the research around the meaning(s)
of intrinsic sub-Laplacians, their self-adjointness and what we can learn from studying
their spectra. The discussion will be structured to provide the main ideas and touch
upon some of the major open questions. For this part of the talk I will assume
some knowledge of functional analysis and operator theory.

Given the limited amount of time and to try and keep the talk understandable to
the broadest audience, I will stay away from the most complex technicalities as
much as possible. In any case, I will provide plenty of references for the interested
participants and the more experienced audience.