Is the abstract mathematics of topology applicable to the real world?

Mini-Symposium on Topology
Topic:Is the abstract mathematics of topology applicable to the real world?
Speaker:Robert D. MacPherson; Randall D. Kamien; Raúl Rabadán
Affiliation:Hermann Weyl Professor, School of Mathematics; University of Pennsylvania; Columbia University
Date:Friday, May 1
Time/Room:5:30pm - 6:30pm/Wolfensohn Hall

Topology is the only major branch of modern mathematics that wasn't anticipated by the ancient mathematicians. Throughout most of its history, topology has been regarded as strictly abstract mathematics, without applications. However, illustrating Wigner's principle of "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences", topology is now beginning to come up in our understanding of many different real world phenomena. In this minisymposium, Robert MacPherson will talk on "What is Topology?", Randall Kamien will discuss topology and liquid crystals (like those in your computer display), and Raul Rabadan will describe how topology modifies our understanding of the evolutionary "Tree of Life".