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Graduate Student Colloquium

337 White Hall Classroom Building
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Julianne Vega, University of Kentucky

Title: Just your average American: How NPR inspired me to learn about Orbifolds

Abstract:   First introduced by Satake as V-manifolds, Orbifolds, are generalizations of manifolds and can be thought of as a quotient space with isolated singularities. Orbifolds are found in many areas of mathematics including geometry, topology, music theory, and string theory. In this talk, we will build up to and introduce orbifolds, discuss some examples, and explore the juicy history of pinball. 

P.S. - If you would like to read about how the name came to be, it is quite entertaining: 

"The origin of the word “orbifold”: the true story. Near the beginning of his graduate course in 1976, Bill Thurston wanted to introduce a word to replace Satake’s “V-manifold” from [12]. His first choice was “manifolded”. This turned out not to work for talking - the word could not be distinguished from “manifold”. His next idea was “foldimani”. People didn’t like this. So Bill said we would have an election after people made various suggestions for a new name for this concept. Chuck Giffen suggested “origam”, Dennis Sullivan “spatial dollop” and Bill Browder “orbifold”. There were many other suggestions. 5 The election had several rounds with the names having the lowest number of votes being eliminated. Finally, there were only 4 names left, origam, orbifold, foldimani and one other (maybe “V-manifold”). After the next round of voting “orbifold” and the other name were to be eliminated. At this point, I spoke up and said something like “Wait you can’t eliminate orbifold because the other two names are ridiculous.” So “orbifold” was left on the list. After my impassioned speech, it won easily in the next round of voting."

- From Lectures of Orbifolds and Reflection groups by Michael W. Davis


As always, pizza will be there at 4 and the talk will start at 4:15. 


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