Title: Avoiding Collisions and Braiding String: Configuration Spaces and the Braid Group

Date: 03/23/2018

Time: 4:10 PM - 5:00 PM

Place: C304 Wells Hall

Speaker: Kristen Hendricks, Mathematics, MSU

There are many real-world problems that amount to studying the possible paths of n objects through a space X such that those objects never collide. (Examples include flight traffic patterns around an airport, or automated carts moving around a factory floor.) We think about such problems by studying paths in configuration spaces, spaces consisting of ordered sets of distinct points in X. In one of the simplest cases, these spaces turn out to be closely linked to a seemingly different mathematical object, the n-stranded braid group. We introduce configuration spaces and the braid group and learn about their relationship.