Iain AITCHISON
Title:
Construction of highly symmetric Riemann surfaces, related manifolds, and some exceptional objects, I, II
Abstract:
Since antiquity, some mathematical objects have played a special role, underpinning new mathematics as understanding deepened.
Perhaps archetypal are the Platonic polyhedra, subsequently related to Platonic idealism, and the contentious notion of existence of mathematical
reality independent of human consciousness.
Exceptional or unique objects are often associated with symmetry - manifest or hidden. In topology and geometry, we have natural base points for the moduli spaces of closed genus 2 and 3 surfaces (arising from the 2-fold branched cover of the sphere over the 6 vertices of the octahedron, and Klein's quartic curve, respectively), and Bring's genus 4 curve arises in Klein's description of the solution of polynomial equations of degree greater than 4, as well as in the construction of the Horrocks-Mumford bundle. Poincare's homology 3-sphere, and Kummer's surface in real dimension 4 also play special roles.
In other areas: we have the exceptional Lie algebras such as E8; the sporadic finite simple groups; the division algebras: Golay's binary and ternary codes; the Steiner triple systems S(5,6,12) and S(5,8,24); the Leech lattice; the outer automorphisms of the symmetric group S6; the triality map in dimension 8; and so on. We also note such as: the 27 lines on a cubic, the 28 bitangents of a quartic curve, the 120 tritangents of a sextic curve, and so on, related to Galois' exceptional finite groups PSL2(p) (for p= 5,7,11), and various other so-called `Arnol'd Trinities'.
Motivated originally by the `Eightfold Way' sculpture at MSRI in Berkeley, we discuss inter-relationships between a selection of these objects, illustrating connections arising via highly symmetric Riemann surface patterns. These are constructed starting with a labeled polygon and an involution on its label set.
Necessarily, in two lectures, we will neither delve deeply into, nor describe in full, contexts within which exceptional objects arise.
We will, however, give sufficient definition and detail to illustrate essential inter-connectedness of those exceptional objects considered.
Our starting point will be simplistic, arising from ancient Greek ideas underlying atomism, and Plato's concepts of space. There will be some overlap
with a previous talk on this material, but we will illustrate with some different examples, and from a different philosophical perspective.
Some new results arising from this work will also be given, such as an alternative graphic-illustrated MOG (Miracle Octad Generator) for the Steiner system S(5,8,24),
and an alternative to Singerman - Jones' genus 70 Riemann surface previously proposed as a completion of an Arnol'd Trinity. Our alternative
candidate also completes a Trinity whose two other elements are Thurston's highly symmetric 6- and 8-component links, the latter related by Thurston to Klein's quartic curve.