Title: From Quantum Field Theory to Topology
Speaker: Chris Elliott
Speaker Info: Northwestern University
Many of you know something about TQFTs as a gadget for doing topology. But what on earth do these functorial machines have to do with quantum mechanics? In this talk I'll try to answer that question, starting from an abstract viewpoint on what a quantum field theory gives you. I'll proceed to talking about how ideas from physics pass through the lens of TQFT to give us interesting invariants in topology. In particular I'll discuss some famous work of Witten which takes physical observables and returns knot invariants. If I have time at the end I might say something about how extended TQFTs and higher topological gadgets can naturally arise from thinking about strings.Date: Friday, May 10, 2013
I won't assume any knowledge of physics, nor any advanced topology.