18.915: Seminar on Algebraic Topology, Fall 2013

Tues, 2:30-3:30, E17-128; Wed, 9:00-10:00, E18-466A; occasionally Fri, 11:00-12:00, TBA

This is a literature seminar, with a focus on classic papers in Algebraic Topology. Each student will give talks on each of three papers, chosen in consultation with me, and will also read all the papers talked on in a more cursory way, and write brief reactions to them. As the seminar progresses, students may follow their own interests to some extent in the choice of papers.

Suggested Papers

A list of appropriate papers can be found here. I also compiled an ideosyncratic extra list. But these are merely suggestions. I would love for you to find and select papers outside of this list, as long as you are consulting me.

Practice talks

Prior to your talk, you are required to arrange a practice talk with one or more classmates. This is something you should consider always doing when planning to give a talk.


Missing or being late to seminar is not acceptable. Of course, there are legitimate reasons to miss a seminar - i.e. sickness, religious holiday, travel...


For each paper being presented, all seminar participants (except the speaker) are required to skim the paper and write a response to the mathematical content of the paper (a paragraphs or more, say), due before the paper is presented. Your response should not consist of a summary of the paper, but rather your reaction to the paper. What did you think of the methods, what confused you, what do you suppose the author's motivations were? How does this impact your understanding of the subject?

Class Blog

I have created a class blog. It is a private blog, meaning that only the seminar participants can access it. I encourage you to blog about anything class related, and to comment on each other's postings. The blog also has some links to course materials, like papers. You can write latex in the blog.

Some resources:

Mark Behrens