211019 Niall Taggart

October 19, 2021

Title: From K-theory to calculus

Speaker: Niall Taggart


Topological K-theory is an extension of algebraic K-theory to the world of geometry. Building from vector spaces (say over the real or complex numbers) Atiyah constructed an invariant of topological spaces which behaves similarly to how algebraic K-theory behaves as an invariant of rings. Depending on one's choice of the base field we obtain different invariants which are intricately related.

Also starting with real or complex vector spaces as the foundations, one can describe a categorification of differential calculus which studies functors from your category of vector spaces to the category of topological spaces. This calculus has much in common with differential calculus including the ability to examine the rate-of-change of a functor and a version of Taylor’s Theorem which provides a filtration of a topological space by “polynomial” parts.

In this talk, I will aim to provide some intuition behind these two seemingly unrelated constructions and discuss how the intricate relationship between real and complex K-theory offers deep insight into the calculus. If time permits I will discuss some other categorifications of calculus and how they relate to each other.

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