Undergraduate Course: Discrete Geometry (MATH10090)
Course Outline
School  School of Mathematics 
College  College of Science and Engineering 
Credit level (Normal year taken)  SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) 
Availability  Available to all students 
SCQF Credits  10 
ECTS Credits  5 
Summary  At the heart of many problems in continuous settings lies basic combinatorial issue involving incidence geometry; how lines in euclidean spaces interact.
Even the question of how many intersections can arise from an arbitrary configuration of lines in the plane is nontrivial and answered by the beautiful SzemerediTrotter theorem.
Traditionally, problems in incidence geometry are notoriously hard with clever ad hoc methods devised, resulting in incremental progress. Recently an old elementary method, the socalled polynomial method, has been applied to problems in discrete geometry with dramatic effect, often giving definitive resolutions to longstanding problems.
The polynomial method is surprisingly powerful, dating back to Thue and has been used to give an elementary proof of the famous Riemann Hypothesis for curves over finite fields.
We plan to introduce the method by proving the RH for superelliptic curves and then show how it can be used in a variety of problems in discrete geometry; to solve the joints problems (where one asks how many places can a configuration of lines in space meet in three independent directions), to prove the Kakeya and Nikodym problem over finite fields in all dimensions and to give an alternative proof of the SzemerediTrotter theorem.

Course description 
 Overview of problems in discrete geometry, introduction to incidence geometry
 Introduction to polynomial method, the SchwartzZippel Lemma and the method of undetermined coefficients.
 Riemann hypothesis for curves in finite fields
 Finite field Kakeya and Nikodym problems
 The Joints Problem
 Cell decompositions in euclidean spaces.
 Applications of cell decompositions: SzemerediTrotter theorem and a projection theorem.
 Discussion of other problems: Erdos distance problem and Diophantine equations.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Prerequisites 
Students MUST have passed:
Honours Algebra (MATH10069)

Corequisites  
Prohibited Combinations  
Other requirements  Students might find it useful to have taken MATH10072 Combinatorics and Graph Theory. 
Information for Visiting Students
Prerequisites  None 
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered 
Learning Outcomes
1. Facility with the main ideas behind the polynomial method.
2. Ability to use the polynomial method in simple and concrete situations.
3. Capacity to identify the essential features of ideas and arguments introduced in the course and adapt them to other settings.
4. Be able to produce examples and counterexamples illustrating the mathematical concepts presented in the course.
5. Understand the statements and proofs of important theorems and be able to explain the key steps in proofs, sometimes with variation.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 
Not entered 
Keywords  DGeom 
Contacts
Course organiser  Dr Martin Dindos
Tel:
Email: M.Dindos@ed.ac.uk 
Course secretary  Mrs Alison Fairgrieve
Tel: (0131 6)50 5045
Email: Alison.Fairgrieve@ed.ac.uk 

