Reading Seminar 2018-19

From UW-Math Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search


My (Daniel's) experience has been that reading seminars have diminishing returns: they run out of steam after about 8 lectures on a certain book, as everyone starts falling behind, etc. I was thinking aim broader (rather than deeper), covering 3 books, but with fewer lectures. My idea is to partly cover: Beauville's "Complex Algebraic Surfaces"; Atiyah's "K-theory"; and Harris and Morrison's "Moduli of Curves". We would do about 6-8 lectures on each. This allows us to reboot every two months, which I hope will be mentally refreshing and will allow people who have lost the thread of the book to rejoin. Anyways, it's an experiment!

Some notes:

  • Each book will have a co-organizer: Wanlin Li for Beauville's book; Michael Brown for Atiyah's book; and Rachel Davis for Harris and Mumford's book. Thanks!
  • I left some "Makeup" dates in the schedule with the idea that we would most likely take a week off on those dates. But if we need to miss another date (because of a conflict with a special colloquium or some other event), then we can use those as makeup slots.

Time and Location

Talks will be on Fridays from 11:00-11:50. This semester, Daniel is planning to keep a VERY HARD watch on the clock.

Talk Schedule

date speaker sections
September 4 Wanlin Li Beauville I
September 11 ?? Beauville II
September 18 ?? Beauville II and III
September 25 ?? Beauville III
October 2 ?? Beauville IV
October 9 ?? Beauville V
October 16 ?? Beauville V and VI
October 23 ?? Beauville VII and VIII
October 30 ?? Makeup Beauville
November 6 ?? Atiyah 1
November 13 ?? Atiyah 2
November 20 ?? Atiyah 3
November 27 ?? Makeup
January 29 ?? Atiyah 4
February 5 ?? Atiyah 5
February 12 ?? Atiyah 6
February 19 ?? Makeup
February 26 ?? Moduli 1
February 26 ?? Moduli 1
March 5 ?? Moduli 2
March 12 ?? Moduli 3
March 19 ?? Moduli 4
March 26 ?? Moduli 5
March 26 ?? Moduli 6
April 2 ?? Moduli 7
April 9 ?? Moduli 8
April 16 ?? Makeup

How to plan your talk

One key to giving good talks in a reading seminar is to know how to refocus the material that you read. Instead of going through the chapter lemma by lemma, you should ask: What is the main idea in this section? It could be a theorem, a definition, or even an example. But after reading the section, decide what the most important idea is and be sure to highlight early on.

You will probably need to skip the proofs--and even the statements--of many of the lemmas and other results in the chapter. This is a good thing! The reason someone attends a talk, as opposed to just reading the material on their own, is because they want to see the material from the perspective of someone who has thought it about carefully.

Also, make sure to give clear examples.

Feedback on talks

One of the goals for this semester is to help students learn to give better talks. Here is our plan:

Feedback on the seminar

We are experimenting with lots of new formats in this year's seminar. If you aren't happy with how the reading seminar, please let one of the organizers (Daniel, Wanlin, Michael, or Rachel) know and we will do our best to get things back on a helpful track.

  • Feedback session: This is like a streamlined version of what creative writing workshops do. Every week, we reserve some time (10 minutes? 15?) for the entire audience to critique that week’s speaker. The key rule would be that the speaker is not allowed to speak during this time. Or at least they could not speak until the very end. Also, faculty would not speak for the first 5 or so minutes, so as to not dominate the conversation.
  • (ii) Partner: We assign a “partner” each week (maybe the partner would be the next week’s speaker). The partner would meet with the speaker in advance to: (-) Discuss a plan for their talk. (I’d say “plan on meeting for 30 minutes”.) (-) Ask the speaker if there are any particular things that the speaker would like feedback on (e.g. pacing, boardwwork, clarity of voice, etc.). The partner would also take notes during the feedback session, to give the speaker a record of the conversation.