Some disconnected thoughts

Sorry for the silence here, the last six months have been pretty busy. Anyway, here are some small and miscellaneous thoughts.

\bullet Dan Abramovich is a really excellent and entertaining writer.  I especially recommend this BAMS review of books by Cutkosky and Kollar, and this survey article for the 2018 ICM; after reading these, you’ll feel like you really understand what “resolution of singularities” looks like as a working field.  His mathscinet review of Fesenko’s IUTT survey is also deeply funny – let us hope that the phrase “resounding partial success” enters common usage.

\bullet Speaking of the 2018 ICM, Scholze’s article is also now available here. I was amused to see a reference to “prismatic cohomology” in the last paragraph – when I visited Bhargav in October, this object had a truly horrible and useless provisional name, so it’s great to see that name replaced by such a perfect and suggestive one.  (This is a new cohomology theory which is closely related to crystalline cohomology, and is also morally related to diamonds – cf. these notes for the actual definition.)

\bullet Recently I had need of the following result:
Lemma. Let S=\mathrm{Spec}\,A be the spectrum of a valuation ring, with generic point \eta \in S. Let X \to S be a separated and finite type map of schemes, and let x: \eta \to X_{\eta} be a section over the generic point of S, with scheme-theoretic image Z \subset X. Then the induced map Z \to S is an open immersion.

Note that if X \to S is proper, then Z \to S is an isomorphism. Anyway, I ended up working out two proofs: a short argument relying on Nagata compactification, and a longer argument which avoided this result but used some other pretty tricky stuff, including Zariski’s main theorem and Raynaud-Gruson’s magic theorem that if R is a domain, then any flat finite type R-algebra is finitely presented. If someone knows a truly elementary proof of this lemma, I’d be interested to see it.

Next time I’ll say something about what I needed this for…


Report from Tucson

Just back from the 2017 Arizona Winter School on perfectoid spaces.  First of all, I should say that everything was impressively well-organized, and that the lecturers did a fantastic job, especially considering the technical weight of this material. (Watch the videos if you don’t believe me.)  Jared Weinstein, in particular, has an almost supernatural ability to make a lecture on some technical thing feel comforting.

Now to the jokes.

  • In his opening lecture, Scholze called perfectoid spaces a “failed theory”, on account of his inability to completely settle weight-monodromy. “You see, I’m Prussian, and when a Prussian says he wants to do something, he really feels responsible for doing it.”
  • Audience member: “Why are they called diamonds?”
    Scholze: “[oral explanation of the picture on p. 63 of the Berkeley notes]”
    Weinstein: “Also, diamonds are hard.”
  • Anon.: “When you’re organizing a conference, the important thing is not to give in and be the first one who actually does stuff.  Because then you’ll end up doing everything!  Don’t do that!  Don’t be the dumb one!”
    Me: “Didn’t you organize [redacted] a couple of years ago?”
    Anon.: “Yeah… It turned out that Guido Kings was the dumb one.”
  • Mazur: “It just feels like the foundations of this area aren’t yet… hmm…”
    Me: “Definitive?”
    Mazur: “Yes, exactly.  I mean, if Grothendieck were here, he would be screaming.”
  • “Do you ever need more than two legs?”
  • During the hike, someone sat on a cactus.
  • Finally, here is a late night cartoon of what a universal cohomology theory over \mathbb{Z} might look like (no prizes for guessing who drew this):