Spin foam models are a "state-sum" approach to loop quantum gravity which aims to facilitate the description of its dynamics, an open problem of the parent framework. Since these models' relation to classical Einstein gravity is not explicit, it becomes necessary to study their asymptotics - the classical theory should be obtained in a limit where quantum effects are negligible, taken to be the limit of large triangle areas in a triangulated manifold with boundary.

# Seminars

The notion of topological complexity of a space has been introduced by M. Farber in order to give a topological measure of the complexity of the motion planning problem in robotics. Surprisingly, the determination of this invariant for non-orientable surfaces has turned out to be difficult. A. Dranishnikov has recently established that the topological complexity of the non-orientable surfaces of genus at least 4 is maximal. In this talk, we will determine the topological complexity of the Klein bottle and extend Dranishnikov's result to all the non-orientable surfaces of genus at least 2.

Using the Dirac–Higgs bundle, we consider a new class of space-filling (BBB)-branes on moduli spaces of Higgs bundles, given by a generalized Nahm transform of a stable Higgs bundle. We then use the Fourier–Mukai–Nahm transform to describe its dual brane, which is checked to be a (BAA)-brane supported on a complex Lagrangian multisection of the Hitchin fibration.

Framed sheaves over surfaces first appeared as a generalisation of framed SU(r) instantons on S4. Later, Uhlenbeck provided a compactification for the moduli space of framed SU(r) instantons which through the Donaldson correspondence and the work of Li and Morgan produced the so called Donaldson-Uhlenbeck compactification of the moduli space of framed sheaves. We want to focus on a further generalisation to the moduli space of framed sheaves on Deligne-Mumford stacks and construct an analogous compactification. This is work in progress with U. Bruzzo.

Symplectic geometry and combinatorics are strongly intertwined due to the existence of Hamiltonian torus actions. These actions are associated with a special map (called the moment map) which "transforms" a compact symplectic manifold into a convex polytope. We will concentrate on the special class of reflexive polytopes which was introduced by Batyrev in the context of mirror symmetry and has attracted much attention recently. In particular, we will see how the famous "12 and 24" properties in dimension 2 and 3 can be generalized with the help of symplectic geometry.

Branes are special submanifolds of hyperkähler manifolds that play an important role in string theory, particularly in the Kapustin–Witten approach to the geometric Langlands program, but which also are of intrinsic geometric interest. More precisely, a brane is a submanifold of a hyperkähler manifold which is either complex or Lagrangian with respect to each of the three complex structures or Kähler forms composing the hyperkähler structure.

The moduli space M_C of Higgs bundles over a complex curve X admits a hyperkaehler metric: a Riemannian metric which is Kaehler with respect to three different complex structures I, J, K, satisfying the quaternionic relations. If X admits an anti-holomorphic involution, then there is an induced involution on M_C which is anti-holomorphic with respect to I and J, and holomorphic with respect to K. The fixed point set of this involution, M_R, is therefore a real Lagrangian submanifold with respect to I and J, and complex symplectic with respect to K, making it a so called AAB-brane.

Given a totally nonholonomic distribution of rank two ∆ on a three-dimensional manifold M, it is natural to investigate the size of the set of points Xx that can be reached by singular horizontal paths starting from a same point x ∈ M. In this setting, the Sard conjecture states that Xx should be a subset of the so-called Martinet surface of 2-dimensional Hausdorff measure zero.

Let X be a smooth projective curve of genus at least two. Let G be an almost simple affine algebraic group. The universal principal G-bundle is called the Poincaré bundle. It is a principal G-bundle on the product of the curve and the moduli stack of principal G-bundles. We prove that it is stable with respect to any polarization (joint work with I. Biswas and N. Hoffmann).

In this introduction for geometers and topologists, we explain the role that central extensions of L-infinity algebras, a concept we will define, plays in physics. This connection first appeared with the work of physicists D’Auria and Fré in 1982, but is beautifully captured by the “brane bouquet” of Fiorenza, Sati and Schreiber which shows how physical objects such as “strings”, “D-branes” and “M- branes” can be classified by taking successive central extensions of an especially simple L-infinity algebra called the “supertranslation algebra”.