The UNC Alfred T. Brauer Lectures

Alfred Brauer (1894–1985) had a profound impact on the Mathematics Department at UNC. Born in Germany, he held a position at the University of Berlin until the advent of the Nazis during the 1930s. He fled the country in 1939, accepting Hermann Weyl’s invitation to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He came to North Carolina in 1942, teaching here until his retirement in 1966. During this time he founded the Mathematics and Physics Library, using his knowledge and expertise to establish a superb collection. In appreciation for this effort the library was named for him in 1976. Alfred Brauer was honored by the University with the award of a Kenan professorship in 1959, the Tanner Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching in 1965, and an honorary doctor of legal letters degree in 1972. He has also received honors from outside the University, including the Oak Ridge Science Award and the G.W.F. Hegel Medal from the University of Berlin. In 1975 an Alfred T. Brauer Instructorship was created at Wake Forest University, where he taught after his retirement from the University of North Carolina. The Alfred Brauer Fund was established by the Department of Mathematics in 1984 on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday.

 

To honor the memory of Alfred Brauer and to recognize his many contributions to the Mathematics Department at UNC, the Alfred Brauer Lectures were begun in 1985.

The 2017 Brauer Lectures will be given by Mikhail Khovanov, on March 29-31, 2017.

The 2016 Brauer Lectures were given by Stan Osher, on April 20-22, 2016.

The 2015 Brauer Lectures were given by Michael Hopkins, on March 23-25, 2015.

The 2014 Brauer Lectures were given by Simon Donaldson, on March 24-26, 2014.

The 2013 Brauer Lectures were given by Vaughan Jones, University of California at Berkeley and Vanderbilt University, on March 4-6, 2013.

The 2012 Brauer Lectures were given by Alex Lubotzky, Hebrew University, on April 16-18, 2012.

The 2011 Brauer Lectures were given by Gerard Laumon of CNRS and Paris-Sud (Orsay) on March 28-30, 2011.

The 2010 Brauer Lectures were given by Alex Eskin of the University of Chicago.

 

Brauer Lectures prior to 2010

Mikhail Khovanov is a recognized leader of the “categorification” program, which plays an important role in modern mathematics and physics.  Khovanov earned his Ph.D. in 1997 under the supervision of Professor Igor Frenkel at Yale University. Shortly thereafter he came up with his famous idea of categorifying the Kauffman bracket, which is a version of the celebrated Jones polynomial of links in a 3-sphere. This was the first example of the categorification which interprets polynomial invariants as Poincare polynomials of new homology theories. The construction of Khovanov homology was amazingly fruitful and very unexpected.

A further categorification of the HOMFLY-PT polynomial of links and a categorification of quantum groups are other major achievments of Khovanov which have now important implications in low-dimensional topology, algebraic and symplectic geometry, geometric representation theory and string theory.