The Inaugural Atiyah Lecture: Jean-Pierre Bourguignon

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The Inaugural Atiyah Lecture: Jean-Pierre Bourguignon

 Jan 11 2021

15:00 - 16:00


The first of the Maxwell Institute's Atiyah Lectures was given by Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon on 11 January 2021 at 15.00-16.00 (GMT).

Click here to view the video recording.

The Atiyah Lecture is an annual lecture to commemorate Sir Michael Atiyah (1929-2019), delivered by a distinguished mathematician who has provided a service to the international mathematical community.

Speaker Details

We are privileged to have Professor Bourguignon as our inaugural Atiyah lecturer. Professor Bourguignon is a distinguished differential geometer who served as director of the IHES and as president of the French Mathematical Society, of the European Mathematical Society and most recently of the European Research Council (click here for more information).

What is a Spinor?

This was the title of the lecture Sir Michael gave in September 2013 at IHES on the occasion of the farewell conference for my retirement as Director.

This was most appropriate as I learned a lot from him about this subject. It is true that mathematicians struggled for a long time to get acquainted with spinors. It is in sharp contrast with the fact that physicists adopted them without hesitation as soon as Paul-Adrien Maurice Dirac showed they were essential to formulate a quantum equation invariant under the Poincaré group.

Indeed spinors have a number of features that make them both subtle and powerful to deal with mathematical problems. Of great importance are of course the natural differential operators universally defined on spinor fields, namely the Dirac and the Penrose operators.

The purpose of the lecture is to revisit historical steps taken to master these objects, explore their remarkable geometric content and present some mathematical problems on which they shed light.

This meeting is supported as part of the ICMS Online Mathematical Sciences Seminars.