Choosing distinct points on cubic curves

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Speaker: 
Weiyan Chen
Institution: 
University of Minnesota
Time: 
Tue, 04/17/2018 - 3:00pm
Host: 
Jesse Wolfson
Location: 
RH 340P

It is a classical topic dating back to Maclaurin (1698–1746) to study certain special points on smooth cubic plane curves, such as the 9 inflection points (Maclaurin and Hesse), the 27 sextatic points (Cayley), and the 72 points "of type 9" (Gattazzo). Motivated by these algebro-geometric constructions, we ask the following topological question: is it possible to choose n distinct points on a smooth cubic plane curve as the curve varies continuously in family, for any integer n other than 9, 27 and 72? We will present both constructions and obstructions to such continuous choices of points, state a classification theorem for them, and discuss conjectures and open questions.