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Paul Aspinwall : The Ubiquity of the ADE Classification



Many classes of mathematical objects turn out to be classified in the same way --- two infinite series and 3 "exceptional" objects. These include symmetries of 3-dimensional solids, rigid singularities, certain types of Lie algebras, positive definite even intersection forms, etc. Discovering why such classes should have the same classification has led to many beautiful ideas and observations. I will give a review of some of the basic ideas (assuming very little in the way of prerequisites) and I may have time to say why string theory has been important in this context.

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