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Dmitry Vagner : Higher Dimensional Algebra in Topology

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In his letter, "Pursuing Stacks," Grothendieck advocated to Quillen for the use of "higher" categories to encode the higher homotopy of spaces. In particular, Grothendieck dreamt of realizing homotopy n-types as n-groupoids. This powerful idea both opened the field of higher dimensional algebra but also informed a paradigm in which the distinction between topology and algebra is blurred. Since then, work by Baez and Dolan among others further surveyed the landscape of higher categories and their relationship to topology. In this talk, we will explore this story, beginning with some definitions and examples of higher categories. We will then proceed to explain "the periodic table of higher categories" and the four central hypotheses of higher category theory. In particular, these give purely algebraic characterizations of homotopy types, manifolds, and generalized knots; and account for the general phenomena of stabilization in topology. No prerequisites beyond basic ideas in algebraic topology will be expected.

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