Posted by Martin Orr on
Friday, 13 August 2010 at 15:05

Last month I finished my Masters in Orsay.
Since March I had been working on a thesis on a 1998 paper of Pink on the Mumford-Tate conjecture (concerning l-adic Galois representations attached to abelian varieties).
The paper was difficult to read, but I learnt a lot doing so.

In July I defended the thesis in Orsay.
This did not seem a valuable exercise.
I spoke for a bit under an hour to my adviser, one other examiner and one of my friends (in my case the second examiner was my adviser's collaborator, visiting from UCL).
In principle the public are permitted to attend, but since it is not announced anywhere noone is likely to do so except some friends you may have invited - I can't imagine anyone else wanting to attend anyway.

Since I had already explained all the contents of my thesis to my adviser in our weekly meetings, the only person I was really talking to was the second examiner.
But as I understand it, the written thesis is the part which is most important for marking, and I doubt whether the second examiner reads that in detail.
They did not ask many questions, and the questions they did ask I was mostly unable to answer - since I had focussed all my energies into understanding the proofs of certain specific results, and then writing down what I had understood, it would have been difficult to ask questions I could answer.

In September I will be returning to do a PhD with the same adviser, and working on the same sorts of questions.

Tags
abelian-varieties, m2, paris

Posted by Martin Orr on
Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 22:45

In the past six weeks I have taken four exams: two on the courses from the first semester (October-January) and two on the courses I have taken January-February.
The reason the latter came so soon after the former is because they are in different institutions
- the first two were here in Orsay, the second two in other institutions in Paris with different timetables.
These exams were hard, and very different from exams in Cambridge.
(Note: this post discusses pure maths exams only.)

Tags
exams, m2, paris, tripos
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Posted by Martin Orr on
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 19:48

Last week I gave a talk on Hodge theory. For the Differential Geometry course, all the students have to give a talk on a topic related to the course. The talk was very long - 1 hour 45 minutes - but this is about the average length of the talks so far. I did my best to shorten it by leaving out unimportant details. Had it not been for the fact that many other talks were longer, I would have removed sections of it entirely, but it did cover about the minimum needed to reach a point of interest to me as an algebraic geometer.

This was the first time I have given a talk of any length in French. This was not too difficult, as I had practised the talk, but probably did slow me down a bit. I am sure the language was far from perfect; for example, I probably should have used the subjunctive all over the place but I didn't bother with it. But the audience were not too concerned about that.

The first half of the talk contained a lot of analysis, needed to prove the Hodge theorem. This is not my area, but it was fun to learn a little bit; I skipped out all the tedious calculations. The second half contained applications of this to complex manifolds, leading up to the fundamental example of a Hodge structure. I shall need soon to learn about the latter in a more abstract setting; no doubt preparing this talk has given me some of the motivation for them, but I am not sure how useful all the proofs will turn out to be.

Tags
hodge, languages, m2, maths, talk

Posted by Martin Orr on
Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 15:52

I had my first lectures in Paris this week. They are much longer than Cambridge lectures: 2 or 2.5 hours per lecture. And you have one lecture in the morning, then the same course again in the afternoon. (In Cambridge lectures are 1 hour, you have about 3 different lectures in a day, and they are only in the mornings.) I had this every day this week, so that was quite a lot. For the first three weeks there are some introductory courses, which take place every day. When term starts properly in October I will only have 2 or 3 days of lectures per week.

The two courses for which I had lectures this week were Algebra and Geometry, and Complex Analysis. The first is all stuff I already know from Part III. Sometimes it is interesting to see it taught from a different (more geometric) perspective, and sometimes it is just boring. The Complex Analysis one is not really relevant to what I am interested in, but I thought I would go along just to broaden my knowledge.

The lectures are all in French, but the lecturers speak reasonably clearly so that is rarely a problem. Reading what they have written can sometimes be harder, and they don't write full sentences on the board as lecturers usually do in Cambridge. That means that I'm not learning how to write maths in French as I had hoped, and I often don't know what to write to fill in the gaps in what they wrote on the board.

There are about 18 people attending the lectures. The audience at the Algebra and Geometry ones is quite international. I think I am the only native English speaker, but the majority of the audience are probably more comfortable speaking English than French. There are more French people at the analysis lectures.

Tags
france, languages, lectures, m2, paris