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The Fox & Hedgehog Seminar Series

The Fox and Hedgehog seminars, established in 2023, aims to forge closer ties between mathematicians and physicists. The target audience of this series of pedagogical blackboard talks are PhD students, although any and all interested staff and students are always welcome to attend.

In an article in the New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson writes, “Great scientists come in two varieties, which Isaiah Berlin, quoting the seventh-century-BC poet Archilochus, called foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes know many tricks, hedgehogs only one. Foxes are interested in everything, and move easily from one problem to another. Hedgehogs are interested only in a few problems which they consider fundamental, and stick with the same problems for years or decades... Science needs both hedgehogs and foxes for its healthy growth, hedgehogs to dig deep into the nature of things, foxes to explore the complicated details of our marvelous universe.”

The seminar will cover a broad spectrum of topics ranging from quantum physics of the universe to areas of pure mathematics (especially: algebra, geometry, topology, and representation theory) that often inform and are informed by quantum physics. All speakers will be asked to answer the following:

  • What is one big problem/idea in your field, and why is it interesting/motivating to you?
  • What’s a specific example of day-to-day research that you do related to this problem?
  • Are you a Fox or a Hedgehog?

Come along to these seminars and find out which type of scientist you are!

Contacts

Ines FOIDL

Higgs Centre Administrator

Person
Ines FOIDL
Email address
hctp@ed.ac.uk
Tudor DIMOFTE

Fox & Hedgehog Organiser

Person
Tudor DIMOFTE
Email address
tudor.dimofte@ed.ac.uk
Anton ILDERTON

Fox & Hedgehog Organiser

Person
Anton ILDERTON
Email address
anton.ilderton@ed.ac.uk
Emma JOHNSTON

The Fox and Hedgehog Organiser

Person
Emma JOHNSTON
Email address
emma.johnston@ed.ac.uk
Sonja KLISCH

The Fox and Hedgehog Student Organiser

Person
Sonja KLISCH
Email address
s.klisch@ed.ac.uk
Benjamin HAAKE

The Fox and Hedgehog Student Organiser

Person
Benjamin HAAKE
Email address
B.Haake@sms.ed.ac.uk

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - 'Categorical symmetries in QFT'David JORDAN

Category theory and representation theory are branches of mathematics concerned with very general collections of objects and how to transform – i.e. exhibit symmetries – between them. There is a recent upsurge of interest from the physics community in the role of categorical representation theory to capture the topological symmetries of ...
Room 6201, JCMB

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - 'A category theorist thinks about entropy'Tom LEINSTER

Category theorists love pointing at some important concept from another branch of mathematics or science and saying "it's just a ...", where the rest of the sentence will involve some word like "universal", "functor" or "adjoint". This can be clarifying for both the subject at hand and its relationship with ...
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - 'A cosmologist looks at the genetic code'Latham BOYLE

At early times, the universe was an almost perfectly uniform plasma of elementary particles in almost perfect thermal equilibrium. Then, at a later point, it "came alive" (at least in one region, on Earth) – it began evolving and learning about itself, first unconsciously and later deliberately. How did that transition ...
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - 'Borel resummation in supersymmetric QFT'Lotte HOLLANDS

QFT is a beautiful yet mysterious framework, in which it is unfortunately rather hard to obtain exact results. In talks by Anton and Matthew we have seen some of the exciting new tools to make new numerical predictions in strongly-interacting regimes. In particular, Anton introduced resummation techniques for divergent perturbation ...
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - 'Quantum groups and cohomological Hall algebras'Ben DAVISON

Quantum groups are deformations of universal enveloping algebras of Lie algebras. But where do these deformations come from? I'll discuss a compelling addition to the possible ways to answer this question, coming from adding equivariant parameters to cohomological Hall algebras. I won't assume that you know what these ...
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - 'Understanding scattering using periodic boundary conditions'Maxwell HANSEN

Scattering amplitudes are an important observable in quantum field theory. However, in certain quantum field theories (such as quantum chromodynamics or QCD) it can be very challenging to reliably predict scattering amplitudes of low-energy bound states. In this talk, I will explain how progress has been made by deriving mathematical ...
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB

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Fox and Hedgehog Seminar Series - Where do low-energy states live in QFT?Matthew WALTERS

Quantum field theory (QFT) forms the backbone of our conceptual understanding of most physical systems, yet our ability to use this framework to make quantitative predictions is largely limited to systems which are weakly-interacting or have large amounts of symmetry, leaving a significant gap in our understanding of the physical ...
Room 5323, JCMB

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The Fox and the Hedgehog Series - “The breakdown of perturbation theory: physics in strong fields”Anton ILDERTON

Perturbation theory (expanding interesting quantities in a power series of some small parameter) is a physicist’s go-to tool for solving pretty much anything. It’s enormously useful. Mathematically, there is a huge body of literature on the summation, convergence, and resummation of possibly divergent series. In this talk I ...
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB