School Seminar Program

Topology for Physicists

Vanessa Robins

Dr Vanessa Robins
Applied Mathematics

Topology is the study of those aspects of shape and structure that do not depend on precise knowledge of an object's geometry.  Accurate measurements are central to physics, so physicists like to joke that a topologist is someone who cannot tell the difference between a coffee cup and a doughnut.  However the qualitative nature of topology and its ties to global analysis mean that many results are relevant to physical applications.  

This lecture will cover some of the basic concepts in topology and illustrate them with applications in the physical sciences from Poincare's qualitative analysis of dynamical systems to current research in materials science.  

Vanessa Robins is a research fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics.  She completed an honours project in mathematics with RSPE's Prof. Bob Dewar a long time ago and went on to do a PhD at the University of Colorado in Boulder investigating the mathematical foundations for computing topological quantities from data.  From late 2000 she has mostly been hiding out in the cottages working on various projects with the AM mob.  

Whilst in a befuddled baby-brain state a few years ago she agreed to follow her husband to Port Moresby where she spent two years looking after their young children, hoping not to get car jacked the next time she went out to do the grocery shopping, and acquiring a fabulous collection of art and craft. In the meantime, computational and applied topology turned into something of a hot topic and she returned to Applied Maths a few months ago to pick up the pieces and carry on.

Refreshments will be held in the Tea Room after the Seminar (around 5pm)


Date & time

Thu 16 May 2013, 4–5pm


Leonard Huxley Theatre


Staff, students and public welcome