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EPSRC Reference: EP/S029613/1
Title: Problems of Unlikely Intersections: The Zilber-Pink Conjecture for Shimura varieties
Principal Investigator: Daw, Dr C M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
University of Warwick Weizmann Institute of Science
Department: Mathematics and Statistics
Organisation: University of Reading
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 May 2019 Ends: 30 April 2021 Value (£): 117,566
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Algebra & Geometry
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Feb 2019 EPSRC Mathematical Sciences Prioritisation Panel February 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
One of the oldest topics in mathematics is the study of Diophantine equations (named after the 3rd century Hellenistic mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria).

A Diophantine equation is simply a polynomial equation, usually with two or more unknowns, whose coefficients are whole numbers (integers) or fractions (rationals). Consider, for example, 5X+7Y=1, or Y=3X^2.

The aim, given a Diophantine equation, is to find integer or rational values for the unknowns (X and Y in the above) so that the equation holds. Such a combination of values is referred to as an integral or rational solution to the equation. In general, the problem of finding integral or rational solutions to a Diophantine equation is extremely difficult and only the simplest cases can be handled explicitly.

To take a more conceptual approach, one can think of a Diophantine equation as a geometric object (consider, for example, the parabola Y=X^2). In more modern times, it has become clear that this perspective has a key role to play, and some of the greatest mathematical advances of the 20th century have led to the striking discovery that geometry plays a governing role in arithmetic problems such as these. Indeed, this was profoundly demonstrated in 1983, when Faltings proved Mordell's conjecture, which states that a Diophantine equation in two variables satisfying certain geometric conditions has only finitely many rational solutions. In 1986, Faltings was awarded a Fields Medal for his proof.

Mordell's conjecture gave rise to a number of other finiteness conjectures, due to Andre, Lang, Manin, Mumford, Oort, and others. However, although these conjectures shared obvious similarities, it was unclear how they related to one another. This was until the Zilber-Pink Conjecture came along; in a vast new conjecture, it simultaneously generalised all of the aforementioned conjectures. It achieved this in part by working within the rich mathematical objects known as (mixed) Shimura varieties.

The Zilber-Pink Conjecture is a problem of Unlikely Intersections, which is a name derived from the simple principal that, in a space of dimension d, two geometric objects of dimensions n and m, respectively, are highly unlikely to meet if the sum of n and m is less than d. Consider, for example, two lasers fired from opposite corners of a laboratory; we expect them to miss each other because the lasers are lines (and, hence, of dimension 1) being fired in 3-dimensional space, and 1+1=2 is less than 3.

Problems of Unlikely Intersections have produced a flurry of activity in recent years, in large part due to new tools coming from mathematical logic. These were first applied by Pila and Zannier to the so-called Manin-Mumford Conjecture, and their approach has inspired a general strategy, which has already had profound effects in the subject.

The proposed research seeks to obtain new arithmetic results for Shimura varieties that, due to previous work of the author and his collaborator, are known to yield significant progress towards the Zilber-Pink Conjecture via extensions of the Pila-Zannier strategy. It also seeks to obtain effective results (in other words, results with numeric outputs that are in principal computable) in the setting of the Zilber-Pink Conjecture. It will achieve this latter aim using new tools from the geometry of differential equations that have already produced results in simpler settings.

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