Moduli spaces attempt to classify all mathematical objects of a particular type, for example algebraic curves or vector bundles, and record how they 'vary in families'. Often they are constructed using Geometric Invariant Theory (GIT) as a quotient of a parameter space by a group action. A common theme is that in order to have a nice (eg Hausdorff) space one must restrict one's attention to a suitable subclass of 'stable' objects, in effect leaving certain badly behaved objects out of the classification. Assuming no prior familiarity, I will elucidate the structure of instability in GIT, and explain how recent progress in non-reductive GIT allows one to construct moduli spaces for these so-called 'unstable' objects. The particular focus will be on the application of this principle to the GIT construction of the moduli space of stable curves, leading to moduli spaces of curves of fixed singularity type.
- Junior Geometry and Topology Seminar