Advanced Topics in Theoretical Physics (Spring 2023)

It is a pleasure to announce this spring's Delta ITP Course Advanced Topics in Theoretical Physics. The course is divided into three 5-week modules, which will covers an introduction to topology in soft matter, stochastic thermodynamics and topological data analysis. As always, the emphasis is on methods that can be used across all fields of physics.
Each module consists of four lectures and exercise sessions. Lectures will take place on Mondays at
11:15 - 13:00, followed by a study/exercise session from 13:45 - end. At the end of each module there is an exam. All exams are pass/fail, and you need to pass all three exams to receive credit for the course.
Teaching is on location in person, with the location of this course rotating between the three institutes. The first module is in Utrecht. Directions to the institutes can be found here: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden. Students who do not have an OV-card from the Dutch government can have their travel costs reimbursed from D-ITP. Please contact the local coordinator (below) for details.
Please register [HERE] before the course begins, even if you do not take the course for credit. We cannot process your grade or send important notices if you do not register.

  • Module 1:

    Geometric and Topological Methods in Materials
    Randall Kamien (Utrecht)
    Lectures and exercises: Feb 6, 13, 20, 27
    Exam: Mar 6

    Location: DALTON 500-4.27

    Abstract: This course will introduce the geometry and topology of two and three dimensional spaces with a focus on the study of materials such as membranes, liquid crystals, and colloidal systems.
    The mathematics and the physics will be codeveloped with one informing the other. Other systems to be studied will depend on class interests and background.

  • Module 2:

    Introduction to stochastic thermodynamics
    Marc Serra (Leiden)
    Lectures and exercises: Mar 13, 20, 27, Apr 3
    Exam: Apr 17 (Apr 10 is public holiday)

    Location: Gorlaeus EM109

    Abstract: Conventional thermodynamics is immensely successful at describing macroscopic, near equilibrium phenomena. However, many relevant systems, ranging from modern hyper-miniaturised transistors to molecular motors in cells, are both highly fluctuating and far from equilibrium. This course will provide a gentle introduction to the emerging field of stochastic thermodynamics. We will start by discussing the modelling of stochastic processes using Langevin, Itô, and Fokker-Plank representations, including numerical solution techniques and applications to problems such as Brownian motion and stochastic resonance. Then, we will introduce fluctuation theorems and the Jarzynski identity, with applications in the measurement of free energy changes during protein folding. We will briefly discuss notions of coarse graining, including definitions of heat, work and entropy production at the mesoscale, and introduce thermodynamic uncertainty relations. Finally, we will provide a brief overview of the stochastic thermodynamics of information processing — which allows us to solve paradoxes such as the Maxwell demon, and represents an increasingly significant research area.

  • Module 3:

    Topological Data Analysis: a physics perspective
    Jan Pieter van de Schaar (Amsterdam)
    Lectures and exercises: Apr 24, May 8, 15, 22
    Exam: Jun 5 (May 1 is UvA holiday, May 29 is a public holiday)

    Location: Lectures SP D1.112, the exercise sessions SP G2.02; Exam D1.113

    Abstract: Topological Data Analysis (TDA) is a relatively new approach to analyzing high-dimensional data sets. By focussing on global properties like the shape and connectivity of the data, it probes features very different from local properties, and therefore appears to be a particularly promising approach to identify and constrain scale-dependent and/or non-Gaussian observables . In this Advanced Topics course we aim to introduce its mathematical foundations, including some algebraic topology and discrete Morse theory, and provide some basic examples of applications, all from a physics perspective.

  • Contact:

    Dr. Lars Fritz
    Institute for Theoretical Physics
    Utrecht University
    Princetonplein 5
    3584 CC Utrecht
    tel: +31 30 253 3880

    Prof. Koenraad Schalm
    Instituut-Lorentz for Theoretical Physics
    Leiden University
    Niels Bohrweg 2
    2335 CA Leiden

    Dr. Wouter Waalewijn
    Institute for Theoretical Physics
    University of Amsterdam
    Science Park 904
    1098 XH Amsterdam