Michael J. Falk
Topology, Geometry, Algebra & Combinatorics
At left, Desolation Canyon, Utah, USA
On the Green River in Desolation Canyon, July 2006.
In Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan, August, 2009 (photo courtesy of David Mond)
Welcome to the home page of me, Michael Falk. I teach and do research in mathematics at Northern Arizona University. My primary fields of interest are topology, combinatorics, algebra, and geometry, in particular in their applications to the theory of complex hyperplane arrangements. I play traditional music, and I have a family, and I have little bit of a life beyond mathematics.
As of July 1, 2014, I am Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at NAU. HEre is the department web page: nau.edu/math.
Stuff for my students Office hours and links to course web pages, where students will find lots of information, including exercise lists, problem sets, solutions, exam information, exams and solutions, and many helpful remarks.
Serious stuff My curriculum vita, abstracts and preprints of some of my scholarly articles, a brief description of my research interests, stuff like that.
My academic ancestry Mathematicians consider their dissertation advisors to be their academic fathers. Their adivsors are our acedemic grandfathers. My academic lineage goes a long way back, and includes some names you might recognize. To check it out, click on this link (click here), and then click on my advisor's name (Peter Orlik) to see his advisor, and continue till you reach the Renaissance.
My 2011-12 sabbatical This link will take you to a timeline (a work in progress) of last year's sabbatical, which I spent in mostly in Europe: Dublin for four months, Bonn and Bremen, Germany, for two months each, with short trips to Boston and to Nice and Pau, France.
Advances in Applied Mathematics In March, 2010, I was invited to join the editorial board of this fine journal, published by Elsevier. It was founded by Gian-Carlo Rota as a companion journal to Advances in Mathematics. As former editor Henry Crapo described it in an email after Rota passed away, the journal publishes "good quality articles on applications, and, as tradition has it, in combinatorial theory." Have a look at the aims and scope, and, if you have a good paper that fits the description, and is in my area of expertise, send it to me - I promise to move it along quickly. I'm also on the editorial board of JP Journal of Geometry and Topology, and recently joined the editorial board of a new open-access journal, Mathematics, that will publish its first issue in 2013. (Articles will be published with no charge to the author through the 2013 calendar year.)
Here are links that may be of interest to mathematicians and students of mathematics. It's a work in progress.
Some recent meetings:
Frames and Algebraic and Combinatorial Geometry, in Bremen
In July, 2015, I attended this workshop, click here, bringing together applied mathematicians working in frame theory (applications to compressedsensing, for example) and people working in geometry like me. I gave a tutorial in matroid theory, not my area exactly, but I am a "power user" I guess.
Computational Geometric Topology in Arrangement Theory, in Providence
Earlier in July, 2015, I attended this workshop at ICERM, the Institute for Computational and Experimental research in Mathematics, at Brown University, click here. This conference was in honor of my friend and co-author, Alex Suciu.
Perspectives in Lie Theory, in Pisa and Cortona
Colleagues in Pisa, Italy, organized a research bimester at Centro di Giorgi in Pisa, called Persepctives in Lie Theory, click here. I spent two weeks in Pisa in February, 2015, and attended a related conference called Configuration Spaces, at Il Pallazone in Cortona, in September, 2014, click here.
Hyperplane Arrangements, Wonderful Compactifications, and Tropicalization
I had the good fortune to spend a week at the Banff International Research Station, to take part in a Focused Research Group with the title above, click here. Besides me there were Graham Denham, Eva-Maria Feichtner, Alex Fink, June Huh, Eric Katz, and Alex Suciu.We had a fun time, and I learned what I needed to prove an old folklore conjecture about Milnor fibers,first stated in print thirty years ago by, well, me.
Two meetings in Romania
In June of 2014, I traveled to Romania, spending one night in Bucharest, then a week in Eforie Nord, near Constanta on the Black Sea, attending a conference called Experimental and theoretical Methods in Algebraic Topology and Geometry (the link to the web page is non-functional), followed by two days of driving across the country, with a night in Moieciu de Sos in the Carpathians, followed by a week in Alba Iulia and an interntiaonal AMS meeting, click here. I took the opportunity to stop in Dublin on my way home, for a week of work with my co-authors Tom Brady and Colum Watt, a couple of old-time sessions at the Cobblestone with my friends Bill Whelan and Maeve Toner, followed by a week on the Beara peninsula in the southwest of Ireland with Darcy, including a nice session in the lovely town of Allihies, hosted by Ackie and Pat.
Hyperplane Arrangements: Combinatorial and Geometric Aspects, in Bochum
In February, 2013, I travelled to Germany for a small meeting organized by Gerhard Roehrle and Torsten Hoge in Bochum, Germany, in the Ruhr Valley. Here is the conference web page: click, and here is the cool poster: click.
Click on the travel page link to the left to see descriptions of other trips I've taken over the years.
Other interests of mine...
I also play traditional music—Celtic (Irish, Scottish, and Breton), bluegrass, old-timey and fiddle tunes, jazz and swing, and other eclectic stuff—on the mandolin and bouzouki, and I frail old-time Appalachian tunes on an open-back banjo. I play with several string bands, but only occasionally: Faint Praise, with Bill Vernieu and Joanna Joseph (we played the Flag Folk Fet in June, 2011); The Joan Wyatt Band, with Joan, Bill, and Reno and Sheila McCormick from down in Camp Verde (it's been five years since we last played all together on stage); the short-lived but very fun Erogenous Jones Band, with Kate Watters, Bob Ed Chambers, Hans Drexler, and Ean Dunder, and currently afleeting revival of Faint Praise that includes Darcy on vocals - we played a tweener set at the Ogden Bluegrass Festival in May, 2015.
I am former board member, secretary, and president of Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music. I was heavily involved in producing the Pickin' in the Pines festival for the first four years of its existence. Visit the web page: pickininthepines.org and buy a ticket - it's well worth the money.
Musical stuff - Some (very) old pictures and sound files of my mandolin, some music I've transcribed in abc format, pictures of me and my friends playing for people, stuff like that. (Note: The Summit no longer belongs to me - in its place I have a 1983 Steve Carlson-signed Flatiron Model A5-1, a great mandolin. Maybe I'll put up some pictures and sound one of these days.)
And my family.
Darcy Falk Textile Arts My lovely wife Darcy Falk is an artist and writer - she's good. Check out her web page by clicking on the link. She's been involved in many arts organizations in Flagstaff: she was involved in the founding of the Coconino Quilters' Guild; she and Ann Beck started the Flagstaff Children's Museum( with some help from thier spouses and many other people); she was part of the group that started the Artists Coalition of Flagstaff; she was on the task force that advised the County on the development of Flagstaff Cultural Partners, now Flagstaff Arts Counci, land for several years was an integral part of the group that produces the Pickin' in the Pines Festival. Here is one of her latest projects, the Kevlar Kimono.
Keenan and David We have two sons, Keenan and David, ages 29 and 25. Keenan got an A.A. in Automotive Technology, at St. Cloud Community College in Minnesota, and now he's living in Tucson, doing tech and production design for an outfit called Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros, that puts on "wild West stunt shows for families and tourists. He's a licensed pyrotechnincian. David has an A.A. in Dance from Coconino Community College, and is living in Washington, D.C., assistant managing for Peet's, teaching those easterners how to cup, Berkeley style.
My parents My father, Alfred Falk, is 96 years old, living on his own in Prescott, Arizona. For the last twenty years, up until about a year ago, he worked for Prescott's Project Aware, which has developed and maintains short-term housing for homeless men. A few years ago Governor Napolitano attended the dedication of their new apartment buidling, which is called The Alfred Falk House. Here's a picture: click. Both my parents were involved in many other non-profit service organizations, such as Prescott People Who Care and the Jewish Foundation. In 2006 they were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arizona Commission to End Homelessness - here's a picture: click. Before he retired 25 years ago, he worked in retail home furnishing stores - when I was growing up he managed a furniture store. He was originally an engineer, but that career ended during the McCarthy era, for political reasons. My mother, Rhoda Goodman Falk, died in June, 2008, after a lifetime spent in social work, helping people of little means and families in distress. She worked for many years for the American Red Cross, helping military families and fire and flood victims.
My siblings My older sister, Judy Russell, also lives in Prescott. She tutors French and ESL for Yavapai Community College, contra dances, is active in the Baha'i community and in NAMI. My younger brother, Don, lives in Berkeley and is now executive director of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit corporation that develops low-income housing and provides services for the formerly homeless in San Francisco's Tenderloin. Here's a link: click.