Algebraic Geometry Graphic
Rice University Math
Department of Mathematics
Tuesday, March 28


Benjamin Schmidt (UT)
The Genus of Space Curves
4:00 pm,

Special Events

Spring 2017 Texas Algebraic Geometry Symposium will be held at Rice on April 21-23, 2017. For more details check the conference website.

Patterns, Math & You for students entering the 8th or 9th grade in the Fall of 2017 will be held on the Rice campus June 5-16, 2017. More information can be found on the program website.

Rice University Math Circle will resume on Sunday September 11 at 1:30pm. Please check the website for updates about the program times and dates.

Department News

Professor Veech passed away
August 30

Professor William Austin Veech from Rice University passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, at age 77 in Houston, Texas.

Professor Veech was born on Christmas Eve in 1938 in Detroit, Michigan, and obtained his BA from Dartmouth College in 1960 and earned his Ph.D. in 1963 under the supervision of Salomon Bochner at Princeton University. He joined the faculty of Rice University in 1969. He served as department chair for three years between 1982 and 1986 and held an endowed chair since 1988, Milton Brockett Porter Chair, 1988-2003; Edgar Odell Lovett Chair, since 2003.

Professor Veech believed in the importance of developing one's own unique perspective: all of his more than 60 papers were single-authored, and with a characteristic blend of dynamics, geometry and deep analytic technique, they often transformed whole subjects. Much of his earlier work is related to topological dynamics. Two central subjects of his research are interval exchange transformations and geodesic flows on translation surfaces.

In 1982 Professor Veech had solved (coincidentally with H. Masur) the Keane’s conjecture, which stated that typical minimal interval exchange maps are uniquely ergodic. In an earlier work, Veech constructed natural examples of minimal but not necessarily uniquely ergodic dynamical systems; in particular, he showed that certain delicate Diophantine conditions are intimately connected to ergodic properties of these systems.

Veech’s zippered rectangle construction for interval exchange transformations and Rauzy-Veech induction, used in his argument, became a cornerstone of study in the case of translation surfaces and the Teichmuller geodesic flows.

Perhaps Veech’s most influential contribution in mathematics (1989) concerned what is now called "Veech surfaces”, whose dynamical properties induce subsets of the heavily-studied Riemann’s moduli space of curves with astonishing properties. The study of such surfaces (and their generalizations) has become one of the most active topics in mathematics today.

One remarkable property of Veech surfaces is what is now called “Veech’s dichotomy”: every infinite (geodesic) orbit is either periodic or it is uniformly distributed in the surface. In particular, “Veech’s dichotomy” applies for billiard dynamical systems in some plane polygons, including all regular polygons.

Most recently, Veech made contributions related to Sarnak's conjecture concerning Mobius orthogonality.

Professor Veech was an Inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematics Society. He worked at the Institute for Advanced Study during his numerous visits there during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His publications spanned more than 50 years. He was an excellent and generous mentor and a great friend to his students, colleagues and anyone else who had the honor of meeting him. He will be fondly remembered by all people who knew him.

Professor Varilly-Alvarado receives Superior Teaching Award

Each year the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching honors top Rice professors as determined by the votes of the alumni who graduated two to five years ago. This year Professor Anthony Varilly-Alvarado was among those selected. Congratulations Tony! More from the Rice News.

Undergraduate research to be published in JAT

The paper Quantum Intermittency for Sparse CMV Matrices with an Application to Quantum Walks on the Half-Line by David Damanik, Jon Erickson, Jake Fillman, Gerhardt Hinkle and Alan Vu has been accepted for publication in Journal of Approximation Theory, which is a leading journal publishing research on orthogonal polynomials and CMV matrices. This paper resulted from an intensive 5-week summer research project in 2015 involving three Rice math majors.

Jake Fillman awarded Annales Henri Poincaré Prize

Jake Fillman, who graduated with a Ph.D. from the Rice University mathematics department in Spring 2015, has been awarded the 2014 Annales Henri Poincaré Prize for the best paper published in AHP that year. In this paper Jake and his coauthors studied continuum Schrödinger operators associated with aperiodic subshifts and proved that the spectrum is a Cantor set of zero Lebesgue measure if the subshift satisfies the Boshernitzan condition. This was in fact Jake's very first research paper ever. Congratulations!

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