The usual finite dimensional Grassmannians are well known to be classifying spaces for vector bundles. It is maybe a less known fact that one has certain natural connections on the Stiefel bundles over them, which also have a universality property. I will show how these connections are constructed and explain how this viewpoint can be used to rediscover Chern-Weil theory. Finally, we will see how a certain stabilized version of this, called the restricted Grassmannian, admits a similar construction, which can be used to show that it is a smooth classifying space for differential K-theory.

# Past Junior Geometry and Topology Seminar

Lagrangian Floer homology has been used by Ozsvath and Szabo to define a package of three-manifold invariants known as Heegaard Floer homology. I will give an introduction to the topic.

TQFTs lie at the intersection of maths and theoretical physics. Topologically, they are a recipe for calculating an invariant of manifolds by cutting them into elementary pieces; physically, they describe the evolution of the state of a particle. These two viewpoints allow physical intuition to be harnessed to shed light on topological problems, including understanding the topology of 4-manifolds and calculating geometric invariants using topology.

Recent results have provided classifications of certain types of TQFTs as algebraic structures. After reviewing the definition of TQFTs and giving some diagrammatic examples, I will give informal arguments as to how these classifications arise. Finally, I will show that in many cases these algebras are in fact free, and give an explicit classification of them in this case.

The aim of this talk is to tell the story of Non-Abelian Hodge Theory for curves. The starting point is the space of representations of the fundamental group of a compact Riemann surface. This space can be endowed with the structure of a complex algebraic variety in three different ways, giving rise to three non-algebraically isomorphic moduli spaces called the Betti, de Rham and Dolbeault moduli spaces respectively.

After defining and outlining the construction of these three moduli spaces, I will describe the (non-algebraic) correspondences between them, collectively known as Non-Abelian Hodge Theory. Finally, we will see how the rich structure of the Dolbeault moduli space can be used to shed light on the topology of the space of representations.

Morse theory explores the topology of a smooth manifold $M$ by looking at the local behaviour of a fixed smooth function $f : M \to \mathbb{R}$. In this talk, I will explain how we can construct ordinary homology by looking at the flow of $\nabla f$ on the manifold. The talk should serve as an introduction to Morse theory for those new to the subject. At the end, I will state a new(ish) proof of the functoriality of Morse homology.

Conical symplectic resolutions are one of the main objects in the contemporary mix of algebraic geometry and representation theory,

known as geometric representation theory. They cover many interesting families of objects such as quiver varieties and hypertoric

varieties, and some simpler such as Springer resolutions. The last findings [Braverman, Finkelberg, Nakajima] say that they arise

as Higgs/Coulomb moduli spaces, coming from physics. Most of the gadgets attached to conical symplectic resolutions are rather

algebraic, such as their quatizations and $\mathcal{O}$-categories. We are rather interested in the symplectic topology of them, in particular

finding smooth exact Lagrangians that appear in the central fiber of the (defining) resolution, as they are objects of the Fukaya category.

This talk will be a general introduction to perverse sheaves and their applications to the study of algebraic varieties, with a view towards enumerative geometry. It is aimed at non-experts.

We will start by considering constructible sheaves and local systems, and how they relate to the notion of stratification: this offers some insight in the relationship with intersection cohomology, which perverse sheaves generalise in a precise sense.

We will then introduce some technical notions, like t-structures, perversities, and intermediate extensions, in order to define perverse sheaves and explore their properties.

Time permitting, we will consider the relevant example of nearby and vanishing cycle functors associated with a critical locus, their relationship with the (hyper)-cohomology of the Milnor fibre and how this is exploited to define refined enumerative invariants in Donaldson-Thomas theory.

Equivariant cohomology is adapted from ordinary cohomology to better capture the action of a group on a topological space. In Floer theory, given an autonomous Hamiltonian, there is a natural action of the circle on 1-periodic flowlines given by time translation. Combining these two ideas leads to the definition of $S^1$-equivariant symplectic cohomology. In this talk, I will introduce these ideas and explain how they are related. I will not assume prior knowledge of Floer theory.

The Witten-Reshetikhin-Turaev invariant Z(X,K) of a closed oriented three-manifold X containing a knot K, was originally introduced by Witten in order to extend the Jones polynomial of knots in terms of Chern-Simons theory. Classically, the Jones polynomial is defined for a knot inside the three-sphere in a combinatorial manner. In Witten's approach, the Jones polynomial J(K) emerge as the expectation value of a certain observable in Chern-Simons theory, which makes sense when K is embedded in any closed oriented three-manifold X. Moreover; he proposed that these invariants should be extendable to so-called topological quantum field theories (TQFT's). There is a catch; Witten's ideas relied on Feynman path integrals, which made them unrigorous from a mathematical point of view. However; TQFT's extending the Jones polynomial were subsequently constructed mathematically through combinatorial means by Reshetikhin and Turaev. In this talk, I shall expand slightly on the historical motivation of WRT invariants, introduce the formalism of TQFT's, and present some of the open problems concerning WRT invariants. The guiding motif will be the analogy between TQFT and quantum field theory.