Configuration spaces of particles and phase transitions

22 November 2019

Configuration spaces of points in Euclidean space or on a manifold are well studied in algebraic topology. But what if the points have some positive thickness? This is a natural setting from the point of view of physics, since this the energy landscape of a hard-spheres system. Such systems are observed experimentally to go through phase transitions, but little is known mathematically.

In this talk, I will focus on two special cases where we have started to learn some things about the homology: (1) hard disks in an infinite strip, and (2) hard squares in a square or rectangle. We will discuss some theorems and conjectures, and also some computational results. We suggest definitions for "homological solid, liquid, and gas" regimes based on what we have learned so far.

This is joint work with Hannah Alpert, Ulrich Bauer, Robert MacPherson, and Kelly Spendlove.

  • Topological Data Analysis Seminar