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CNA Seminar/Colloquium/Joint Pitt-CNA Colloquium

Jean-Pierre Bourguignon
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES)
Title: Geometry and Physics: Cross-fertilization and Missed Opportunities

Abstract: Geometry and Physics have a very long history of positive interaction. The purpose of this lecture is to discuss a sample of such instances, some of the missed opportunities type, some truly influential.

Taking a more or less historical mode, and my own background and interest in Riemannian Geometry, I would like to discuss the following topics: the early development of the discipline; how General Relativity played a fundamental role in triggering further interest and work in the area of Differential Geometry at large, the recurrent appearance of Gauge Theories as an exemplary model of a bridge between Geometry and Physics, as well as the special role played by spinor fields in this interaction.


Jean-Pierre Bourguignon is the President of the European Research Council. He was the Director of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) from 1994 till 2013. This international research institute located near Paris, France, was built as the European counterpart of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

He, specialized in differential geometry and mathematical aspects of theoretical physics. Throughout his career he was a fellow of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He held a Professor position at Ecole Polytechnique from 1986 to 2012. From 1990 to 1992, he was President of the Societe Mathematique de France and President of the European Mathematical Society from 1995 to 1998. He is a former member of the Board of the EuroScience organisation (2002-2006) and served on EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) committees from 2004 to 2013.

He received the Prix Paul Langevin in 1987 and the Prix du Rayonnement Francais in Mathematical Sciences and Physics from the Academie des Sciences de Paris in 1997. He is a foreign member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences. In 2005, he was elected honorary member of the London Mathematical Society and has been the secretary of the mathematics section of the Academia Europaea. In 2008, he was made Doctor Honoris Causa of Keio University, Japan, and, in 2011, Doctor Honoris Causa of Nankai University, China.

Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Time: 1:30 pm
Location: Wean Hall 7218
Submitted by:  Ian Tice