Developing Algebraic Geometry at the School of Mathematics, University of Nairobi

Date and time: 
Mon, 2018-09-10 20:08

Participants during the Algebraic Geometry workshop held at the School of Mathematics, College of Biological and Physical Sciences in August 2018

The Nairobi workshops in Algebraic Geometry are organized by two ambitious young algebraic geometers at the University of Nairobi, Dr Jared Ongaro and Dr Damian Maingi, both with recent PhDs supervised by European advisors.  The main objective of the workshops is mentoring research activities in Algebraic Geometry at the School of Mathematics, University of Nairobi. 

Why Algebraic Geometry?

Algebraic geometry is a branch of Mathematics which, combines abstract Algebra, especially Commutative Algebra, with Geometry.  For one to be an expert in Algebraic Geometry, then its means the person understands widely all key foundational areas of Mathematics; Algebra, Analysis, Geometry and Topology.  Thus growth in Algebraic Geometry in Nairobi as the biggest School in Mathematics in Kenya will impact highly on the development of Mathematics in Kenya and Africa at large.

In 2015, the duo, Dr. Ongaro and Dr. Maingi agreed to combine forces with Prof. Balasz Szendroi at the University of Oxford and Prof. Gavin Brown at University of Warwick, UK. This became the starting point of a long-term collaboration with yearly workshops on Algebraic Geometry with a varied group of attendees from countries as far as Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, UK and the US.

Prof. Laura Costa from Universidad Barcelona, Prof. Gavin Brown and Prof. Miles Reid from the University of Warwick became long-term partners; the LMS helped with MARM and Scheme 5 grants, and the 2018 workshop was organized in collaboration with the Clay Institute, Imperial College London, the University of Oxford, the University of Warwick and the University of Nairobi.

The main success has been to work with a changing cast of Masters students, who often choose their research topics from among the subjects discussed at a recent workshop. In the last few years, Masters dissertations have been written in Nairobi on Toric Geometry, Kontsevich’ recursion for the number of curves in the plane through a fixed number of points, the Hilbert scheme of points of a surface, and the Euler characteristic of the moduli space of curves, reflecting the interests of workshop speakers. After the initial discussions at the workshops, the presence of Dr. Damian Maingi and Dr. Jared Ongaro on the ground is key to the successful completion of these theses. In 2016, the group graduated their first home-grown PhD, Ben Obiero, supervised by Dr. Maingi; Ben remains a frequent attendee and speaker at our workshops. Some of the students are teaching at local schools and universities, while others embarked on international PhDs; We have since had our students getting opportunities to pursue their PhDs in top university abroad; Patrick Omukuba is a student at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, Geoffrey Mboya with support from the Oxford Mathematical Institute and the Simons Foundation, is proceeding to Oxford to start his doctoral studies in October 2018.  The latest export is Daniel Kariuki specializing in Algebraic codes who has moved to China from September 2018 to enrol for PhD at the elite Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


The workshop is organized in a partnership of the School of Mathematics, University of Nairobi.  

The Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and the Clay Mathematics Institute. Further support has been received from the Africa Oxford Initiative, the University of Warwick, the LMS and IMU CDC.

More information:

Expiry Date: 
Wed, 2021-09-01 20:08

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