I do not currently have any funding available for a PhD project. If you are a student interested in doing a PhD with me, you are, nevertheless, very welcome to contact me (regardless of whether you have access to external funding or not). Please include some details about your academic interests, the kinds of courses you have taken, the topic of your MMath/MSc project (if you did or are doing one) and, most importantly, why you are interested in doing a PhD with me specifically. I will not respond to generic wishes to do a PhD project, which only state that you wish to do a PhD. You can find my email address on my university webpage.
Below is a description of a previous project, which should give you some idea of the kinds of project I offer.
Vertex algebras and generalisations of Lie theory
This project focuses on symmetric functions and their implications in representation theory, finite dimensional semisimple Lie algebras and their representations, affine Kac-Moody algebras and infinite dimensional Lie algebras.
The concept of symmetry is not only appealing in art and poetry, but has also been a driving force in many developments in mathematics and the natural sciences. It gave birth to the mathematical notion of a “group” which in turn has produced fantastical results such as the non-existence of general solution formulae to polynomial equations of degree 5 or greater or Noether’s Theorem on the relation between symmetries and conserved quantities in physics.
One of the great challenges for 21st Century mathematics is that our classical ideas of symmetry do not always work in the context of quantum physics. This is where vertex algebras come in. They can be simultaneously thought of as generalisations of either Lie groups/algebras or commutative algebras with a derivation.
Project aims and methods
By undertaking this project, you will learn about symmetric functions and their implications in representation theory, finite dimensional semisimple Lie algebras and their representations, affine Kac-Moody algebras and infinite dimensional Lie algebras such as the Virasoro algebra, modular functions and Vertex algebras. Any prior knowledge of groups, rings, fields, representation theory and quantum mechanics or field theory would be very helpful.
This PhD project will develop the following skills which are highly relevant in almost any career, both in and outside academia:
- critical thinking and reasoning
- computer programming (Python and Sage)
- writing coherent concise reports
- collaboration and presenting
This is a pure mathematics project and the mathematical knowledge that you are expected to learn will be related to Lie theory and vertex algebras as well as their connection to the mathematics of conformal field theory. There will also be a programming component which will introduce the student to computer algebra in contemporary research.
This combination of pure mathematics and practical programming will serve you well regardless of whether you choose to pursue a career in academia, public sector or private sector post PhD.
If you are interested in reading up on the background relevant to this project, I recommend the following books:
- Vertex Algebras for Beginners, V. Kac
- Vertex Algebras and Algebraic Curves, E. Frenkel and D. Ben-Zvi
- Symmetric Functions and Hall Polynomials, I. G. Macdonald
Conformal Field Theory, P. Di Francesco, P. Mathieu and D. Sénéchal