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Yormark Distinguished Lecture: Cohomology of moduli spaces of curves

Hannah Larson (UC Berkeley)
Thu, May 23 2024, 4:30pm

The moduli space M_g of genus g curves (or Riemann surfaces) is a central object of study in algebraic geometry. Its cohomology is important in many fields. For example, the cohomology of M_g is the same as the cohomology of the mapping class group, and is also related to spaces of modular forms. Using its properties as a moduli space, Mumford defined a distinguished subring of the cohomology of M_g called the tautological ring. The definition of the tautological ring was later extended to the compactification M_g-bar and the moduli spaces with marked points M_{g,n}-bar. While the full cohomology ring of M_{g,n}-bar is quite mysterious, the tautological subring is relatively well understood, and conjecturally completely understood. In this talk, I'll ask the question: which cohomology groups H^k(M_{g,n}-bar) are tautological? And when they are not, how can we better understand them? This is joint work with Samir Canning and Sam Payne.