May 12-15, 2016 - University of Ottawa
Organizers: Siddhartha Sahi (Rutgers University), Hadi Salmasian (University of Ottawa)
This past May, the University of Ottawa hosted the Workshop on Hecke Algebras and Lie Theory. The four-day activity, which took place between May 12 and May 15, was enormously successful in drawing the attention of the research community in Lie theory and Hecke algebras: it attracted more than 50 local and international participants at all levels, from prominent established researchers to aspiring and enthusiastic graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The workshop featured three minicourses and over a dozen research talks by speakers from Canada, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and the US, which spanned a broad spectrum of topics that belong at the forefront of research in Hecke algebras and Lie theory.
The idea of organizing this workshop was conceived during a fruitful collaboration of the organizers on a project about the spectrum of invariant differential operators on symmetric pairs of Lie superalgebras. From this work, and several other recent results, it is natural to infer that a profound connection between Lie superalgebras and the theory of Double Affine Hecke Algebras (DAHA) should exist. Further, in a different direction, the work of one of the organizers (Siddhartha Sahi) with one of the minicourse lecturers (Bogdan Ion) establishes many ties between the DAHA and Extended Affine Lie Algebras (EALA). Interactions between the aforementioned areas lead to a plethora of questions, and answering them necessitates the expertise of researchers in more than one field. The goal of the workshop was to facilitate and expedite collaboration among experts in the three areas of DAHA, EALA, and Lie superalgebras. In this respect, the three minicourses on DAHA (by Bogdan Ion), EALA (by Erhard Neher), and Lie superalgebras (by Vera Serganova), were planned to bring everyone up to speed before the research talks would begin.
In addition to being a unique occasion to learn about cutting-edge research, the workshop was also an opportunity for several outstanding junior participants to present their own work. Three postdoctoral fellows were offered 30-minute time slots to give talks. A novelty of the conference was a two-hour poster session for several graduate students during a pizza lunch. During the poster session, participants walked around the room while they were having pizza and soft drinks, browsed the professionally designed posters, and engaged in multi-way mathematical discussions.
Funding from three sources (The Fields Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Ottawa) was crucial in making the participation of a significant number of junior researchers possible. Of the more than 35 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that attended the workshop, close to 25 were from outside the Ottawa area. All of the non-local junior participants received financial support for the reimbursement of their travel and accommodation expenses. The generous and timely grant by the National Science Foundation was essential in sponsoring 15 junior participants from American institutions.
After the conference, an anonymous online survey was conducted to solicit feedback from the participants on the novelties in the structure of the activity (such as the minicourses taking place before the research talks, and the inclusion of a poster session). The responses were highly positive: a clear indication that the new format was functioning and might be suitable for our future workshops.
In the past seven years, University of Ottawa Lie theorists have played an active role in organizing workshops associated to the Network on Ontario Lie Theorists (NOLT). Since its inception in 2009, the mission of NOLT has been to sponsor mathematical collaboration and increase the visibility of Lie theory within the larger mathematical community. The Workshop on Hecke Algebras and Lie Theory successfully continued the University of Ottawa's long and thriving history of hosting major events in Lie theory and related areas.