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Title  Equations over groups  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Martin Edjvet  
Description  Let G be a group. An expression of the form g_{1} t … g_{k} t=1 where each g_{i} is an element of G and the unknown t is distinct from G is called an equation over G. The equation is said to have a solution if G embeds in a group H containing an element h for which the equation holds. There are two unsettled conjectures here. The first states that if G is torsionfree then any equation over G has a solution. The second due to Kervaire and Laudenbach states that if the sum of the exponents of t is nonzero then the equation has a solution. There have been many papers published in this area. The methods are geometric making use of diagrams over groups and curvature. This subject is related to questions of asphericity of groups which could also be studied. 

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Title  Quadratic forms and forms of higher degree, nonassociative algebras  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Susanne Pumpluen  
Description  Dr. Pumplün currently studies forms of higher degree over fields, i.e. homogeneous polynomials of degree d greater than two (mostly over fields of characteristic zero or greater than d). The theory of these forms is much more complex than the theory of homogeneous polynomials of degree two (also called quadratic forms). Partly this can be explained by the fact that not every form of degree greater than two can be “diagonalized”, as it is the case for quadratic forms over fields of characteristic not two. (Every quadratic form over a field of characteristic not two can be represented by a matrix which only has nonzero entries on its diagonal, i.e. is diagonal.) A modern uniform theory for these forms like it exists for quadratic and symmetric bilinear forms (cf. the standard reference books by Scharlau or Lam) seems to be missing, or only exists to some extent. Many questions which have been settled for quadratic forms quite some time ago are still open as as soon as one looks at forms of higher degree. It would be desirable to obtain a better understanding of the behaviour of these forms. First results have been obtained. Another related problem would be if one can describe forms of higher degree over algebraic varieties, for instance over curves of genus zero or one. Dr. Pumplün is also studying nonassociative algebras over rings, fields, or algebraic varieties. Over rings, as modules these algebras are finitely generated over the base ring. Their algebra structure, i.e. the multiplication, is given by any bilinear map, such that the distributive laws are satisfied. In other words, the multiplication is not required to be associative any more, as it is usually the case when one talks about algebras. Her techniques for investigating certain classes of nonassociative algebras (e.g. octonion algebras) include elementary algebraic geometry. One of her next projects will be the investigation of octonion algebras and of exceptional simple Jordan algebras (also called Albert algebras) over curves of genus zero or one. Results on these algebras would also imply new insights on certain algebraic groups related to them. Another interesting area is the study of quadratic or bilinear forms over algebraic varieties. There are only few varieties of dimension greater than one where the Witt ring is known. One wellknown result is due to Arason (1980). It says that the Witt ring of projective space is always isomorphic to the Witt ring of the base field. If you want to investigate algebras or forms over algebraic varieties, this will always involve the study of vector bundles of that variety. However, even for algebraically closed base fields it is usually very rare to have an explicit classification of the vector bundles. Hence, most known results on quadratic (or symmetric bilinear) forms are about the Witt ring of quadratic forms, e.g. the Witt ring of affine space, the projective space, of elliptic or hyperelliptic curves. An explicit classification of symmetric bilinear spaces is in general impossible because it would involve an explicit classification of the corresponding vector bundles (which admit a form). There are still lots of interesting open problems in this area, both easier and very difficult ones. 

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Title  Cohomology Theories for Algebraic Varieties  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Alexander Vishik  
Description  After the groundbreaking works of V. Voevodsky, it became possible to work with algebraic varieties by completely topological methods. An important role in this context is played by the socalled Generalized Cohomology Theories. This includes classical algebraic Ktheory, but also a rather modern (and more universal) Algebraic Cobordism theory. The study of such theories and cohomological operations on them is a fascinating subject. It has many applications to the classical questions from algebraic geometry, quadratic form theory, and other areas. One can mention, for example: the Rost degree formula, the problem of smoothing algebraic cycles, and uinvariants of fields. This is a new and rapidly developing area that offers many promising directions of research. 

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Title  Quadratic Forms: Interaction of Algebra, Geometry and Topology  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Alexander Vishik  
Description  From the beginning of the 20th century it was observed that quadratic forms over a given field carry a lot of information about that field. This led to the creation of rich and beautiful Algebraic Theory of Quadratic Forms that gave rise to many interesting problems. But it became apparent that quite a few of these problems can hardly be approached by means of the theory itself. In many cases, solutions were obtained by invoking arguments of a geometric nature. It was observed that one of the central questions on which quadratic form theory depends is the socalled "Milnor Conjecture". This conjecture, as we now understand it, relates quadratic forms over a field to the socalled motivic cohomology of this field. Once proven, this would provide a lot of information about quadratic forms and about motives (algebrogeometric analogues of topological objects) as well. The Milnor Conjecture was finally settled affirmatively by V. Voevodsky in 1996 by means of creating a completely new world, where one can work with algebraic varieties with the same flexibility as with topological spaces. Later, this was enhanced by F. Morel, and now we know that quadratic forms compute not just the cohomology of a point in the "algebro geometric homotopic world", but also the socalled stable homotopy groups of spheres as well. It is thus no wonder that these objects indeed have nice properties. Therefore, by studying quadratic forms, one actually studies the stable homotopy groups of spheres, which should shed light on the classical problem of computing such groups (one of the central questions in mathematics as a whole). So it is fair to say that the modern theory of quadratic forms relies heavily on the application of motivic topological methods. On the other hand, the Algebraic Theory of Quadratic Forms provides a possibility to view and approach the motivic world from a rather elementary point of view, and to test the new techniques developed there. This makes quadratic form theory an invaluable and easy access point to the forefront of modern mathematics. 

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Title  Regularity conditions for Banach function algebras  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Joel Feinstein  
Description  Banach function algebras are complete normed algebras of bounded, continuous, complexvalued functions defined on topological spaces. There are very many different examples with a huge variety of properties. Two contrasting examples are the algebra of all continuous complexvalued functions on the closed unit disc, and the subalgebra of this algebra consisting of those functions which are continuous on the closed disc and analytic on the interior of the disc. In the second of these algebras, any function which is zero throughout some nonempty open set must be constantly zero. This is very much not the case in the bigger algebra: indeed Urysohn’s lemma shows that for any two disjoint closed subsets of the closed disc, there is a continuous, complexvalued function defined on the disc which is constantly 0 on one closed set and constantly 1 on the other (algebras of this type are called regular algebras). Most Banach function algebras have some features in common with one or the other of these two algebras. The aim of this project is to investigate a variety of conditions, especially regularity conditions, for Banach function algebras, and to relate these conditions to each other, and to other important conditions that Banach function algebras may satisfy. Regularity conditions have important applications in several areas of functional analysis, including automatic continuity theory and the theory of Wedderburn decompositions. There is also a close connection between regularity and the theory of decomposable operators on Banach spaces. 

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Title  Properties of Banach function algebras and their extensions  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Joel Feinstein  
Description  Banach function algebras are complete normed algebras of bounded continuous, complexvalued functions defined on topological spaces. There are very many different examples with a huge variety of properties. Two contrasting examples are the algebra of all continuous complexvalued functions on the closed unit disc, and the subalgebra of this algebra consisting of those functions which are continuous on the closed disc and analytic on the interior of the disc. In the second of these algebras, any function which is zero throughout some nonempty open set must be constantly zero. This is very much not the case in the bigger algebra: indeed Urysohn’s lemma shows that for any two disjoint closed subsets of the closed disc, there is a continuous, complexvalued function defined on the disc which is constantly 0 on one closed set and constantly 1 on the other (algebras of this type are called regular algebras). Most Banach function algebras have some features in common with one or the other of these two algebras. The aim of this project is to investigate a variety of conditions (including regularity conditions) for Banach function algebras, to relate these conditions to each other, and to other important conditions that Banach function algebras may satisfy, and to investigate the preservation or introduction of these conditions when you form various types of extension of the algebras (especially ‘algebraic’ extensions such as ArensHoffman or Cole extensions). 

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Title  Meromorphic Function Theory  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Prof James Langley  
Description  A meromorphic function is basically one convergent power series divided by another: such functions arise in many branches of pure and applied mathematics. Professor Langley has supervised ten PhD students, and specific areas covered by his and their research include those in the list below. Please note that since Professor Langley is close to retirement age he may not be available to supervise further students, and potential applicants are advised to contact him before applying.


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Title  Relative presentations and asphericity  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Martin Edjvet  
Description  The subject area is Combinatorial Group Theory. The objects of study are relative pesentations which can be viewed as onerelator products. In particular we consider the questions: when is a relative presentation aspherical; what is the order of the group defined by a given relative presentation? This has applications to cyclically presented groups for example. The methods are geometric (borrowing ideas from algebraic topology); algebraic; and may involve computational group theory via GAP or automatic groups. 

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Title  Compensated convex transforms and their applications  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Prof Kewei Zhang  
Description  This aim of the project is to further develop the theory and numerical methods for compensated convex transforms introduced by the proposer and to apply these tools to approximations, interpolations, reconstructions, image processing and singularity extraction problems arising from applied sciences and engineering. 

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Title  Endomorphisms of Banach algebras  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Joel Feinstein  
Description  Compact endomorphisms of commutative, semisimple Banach algebras have been extensively studied since the seminal work of Kamowitz dating back to 1978. More recently the theory has expanded to include power compact, Riesz and quasicompact endomorphisms of commutative, semiprime Banach algebras. This project concerns the classification of the various types of endomorphism for specific algebras, with the aid of the general theory. The algebras studied will include algebras of differentiable functions on compact plane sets, and related algebras such as Lipschitz algebras. 

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Title  Iteration of quasiregular mappings  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Daniel Nicks  
Description  Complex dynamics is the study of iteration of analytic functions on the complex plane. A rich mathematical structure is seen to emerge amidst the chaotic behaviour. Its appeal is enhanced by the intricate nature of the Julia sets that arise, and fascinating images of these fractal sets are widely admired. 

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Title  Mean field limits of GinzburgLandau equations  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Matthias Kurzke  
Description  Many quantum physical systems (for example superconductors, superfluids, BoseEinstein condensates) exhibit vortex states that can be described by GinzburgLandau type functionals. For various equations of motion for the physical systems, the dynamical behaviour of finite numbers of vortices has been rigorously established. We are interested in studying systems with many vortices (this is the typical situation in a superconductor). In the hydrodynamic limit, one obtains an evolution equation for the vortex density. Typically, these equations are relatives of the Euler equations of incompressible fluids: for the GrossPitaevskii equation (a nonlinear Schrödinger equation), one obtains Euler, for the timedependent GinzburgLandau equation (a nonlinear parabolic equation), one obtains a dissipative variant of the Euler equations. The goal of the project is to study the dissipative equations and to understand instabilities and low regularity solutions. 

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Title  Dynamics of boundary singularities  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Matthias Kurzke  
Description  Some physical problems can be modelled by a function or vector field with a near discontinuity at a point. Specific examples include boundary vortices in thin magnetic films, and some types of dislocations in crystals. Typical static configurations can be found by minimizing certain energy functionals. As the core size of the singularity tends to zero, these energy functionals are usually well described by a limiting functional defined on point singularities. This project investigates how to obtain dynamical laws for singularities (typically in the form of ordinary differential equations) from the partial differential equations that describe the evolution of the vector field. For some such problems, results for interior singularities are known, but their boundary counterparts are still lacking. This project requires some background in the calculus of variations and the theory of partial differential equations. 

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Title  Where graphs and partial differential equations meet  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Yves van Gennip  
Description  Many problems in image analysis and data analysis can be represented mathematically as a network based This has lead to an interesting mix of theoretical questions (what is the dynamics on the network induced This project will investigate graph curvature and related quantities and make links to established 

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Title  Graph limits for faster computations  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Yves van Gennip  
Description  Many problems in image analysis and data analysis, such as image segmentation or data clustering, require Recent developments in the theory of (dynamics on) graph limits offer the hope that this subset can be This project will investigate this possibility and can be taken in a theoretical and/or application 

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Title  Vectorial Calculus of Variations, Material Microstructure, ForwardBackward Diffusion Equations and Coercivity Problems  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis, Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Prof Kewei Zhang  
Description  This aim of the project is to solve problems in vectorial calculus of variations, forwardbackward diffusion equations, partial differential inclusions and coercivity problems for elliptic systems. These problems are motivated from the variational models for material microstructure, image processing and elasticity theory. Methods involve quasiconvex functions, quasiconvex envelope, quasiconvex hull, Young measure, weak convergence in Sobolev spaces, elliptic and parabolic partial differential equations, and other analytic and geometric tools. 

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Title  Dynamics of vortex singularities in nonlinear PDE  

Group(s)  Algebra and Analysis, Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Matthias Kurzke  
Description  Nonlinear PDE of GinzburgLandau type can be used to model a wide range of phenomena, from ferromagnetic materials and superconductors to quantum field theory. For certain ranges of the GinzburgLandau parameter (for selfduality and for point vortices), the equations can be reduced to ODEs. The focus of the present project will be to study the equations of motion in a wider setting, with the aim to extend the range of validity of the reductions and to compare almost singular solutions of the PDEs with simplified ODEs that describe the motion of the singularities. The project will use mostly rigorous analysis and possibly numerical simulation. 

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Title  Foundations of adaptive finite element methods for PDEs  

Group(s)  Scientific Computation, Algebra and Analysis  
Proposer(s)  Dr Kris van der Zee  
Description  Foundations of adaptive finite element methods for PDEs Adaptive finite element methods allow the computation of solutions to partial differential equations (PDEs) in the most optimal manner that is possible. In particular, these methods require the least amount of degreesoffreedom to obtain a solution up to a desired accuracy! In recent years a theory has emerged that explains this behaviour. It relies on classical a posteriori error estimation, Banach contraction, and nonlinear approximation theory. Unfortunately, the theory so far applies only to specific model problems. Challenges for students: Depending on the interest of the student, several of these issues (or others) can be addressed. 

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