Rigidity and quasi-rigidity of extremal cycles in Hermitian symmetric spaces
I use local differential geometric techniques to prove that the algebraic cycles in certain extremal homology classes in Hermitian symmetric spaces are either rigid (i.e., deformable only by ambient motions) or quasi-rigid (roughly speaking, foliated by rigid subvarieties in a nontrivial way). These rigidity results have a number of applications: First, they prove that many subvarieties in Grassmannians and other Hermitian symmetric spaces cannot be smoothed (i.e., are not homologous to a smooth subvariety). Second, they provide characterizations of holomorphic bundles over compact Kahler manifolds that are generated by their global sections but that have certain polynomials in their Chern classes vanish (for example, c_2 = 0, c_1c_2 - c_3 = 0, c_3 = 0, etc.).
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Phillip Griffiths Professor of Mathematics
My research concerns problems in the geometric theory of partial differential equations. More specifically, I work on conservation laws for PDE, Finsler geometry, projective geometry, and Riemannian geometry, including calibrations and the theory of holonomy. Much of my work involves or develops techniques for studying systems of partial differential equations that arise in geometric problems. Because of their built-in invariance properties, these systems often have specia