Michael J. Falk
Topology, Geometry, Algebra & Combinatorics
At left, Desolation Canyon, Utah, USA
Me, rowing Deso-Gray (well, resting), July 2006.
(If you want to see or download a more respectable head-shot, click here - ignore the small Denham in the background)
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.
Hyperplane Arrangements: Combinatorial and Geometric Aspects, in Bochum
In February, 2013, I'll be travelling 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.
Arrangements and Configuration Spaces, in Bremen:
While I was visiting Eva-Maria Feichtner in Bremen I co-organized with Eva and Dmitry Feichtner-Kozlov a small 3-day workshop on arrangements, May 22-24, 2012. Here is a link to the conference web page: click here. It was a lot of fun to have my friends Tom Brady, David Mond, Mario Salvetti, Alex Suciu, and Graham Denham (and many others) there.
Arrangements in Pyrénées:
I travelled from Bremen to Pau, France, to attend and give a talk in a summer school on arrangements hosted by Daniele Faenzi, Jean Valles, and Vincent Florens of Université de Pau. Pau is the "Gateway to the Pyrenees" in southwest France, between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Here is a link to the conference web page: click here. I had a great time there.
Hyperplane Arrangements and Applications I was one of the organizers of a conference in honor of Hiroaki Terao, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday. The meeting took place at Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), at UBC in Vancouver, BC, Canada, August 8 - 12, 2011. Here is a link to the conference web page: click.
Configuration Spaces: Geometry, Combinatorics and Topology I spent six weeks living in Pisa, Italy, this summer, participating in the two-month intensive research period Configuration Spaces: Algebra, Combinatorics, and Topology at the Centro di Ricerca Matematica Ennio De Giorgi. It was fun and very productive. Besides my trip to Trieste (see below), I visited Lucca, San Miniato, Tuscania, Viterbo, Rome, and La Cinque Terre. I put some of my pictures up on my Wife's Picasa page - here's the link: snapshots of Italy.
Summer School on Hodge Theory and Related Topics While I was in Italy, I travelled across the country to Trieste, to attend the first week of a three-week summer school on Hodge Theory at ICTP (International Center for Theoretical Physics). It was lots of fun hanging with soccer fans during the World Cup, and I learned a bunch of algebraic geometry and Hodge theory.
MSJ Seasonal Institute on Arrangements of Hyperplanes This large conference, sponsored by the Mathematical Society of Japan, took place August 1-9, 2009, in Sapporo, Japan.
Lib60ber: Topology of Algebraic Varieties Last June I had the good fortune to attend this birthday conference for my old friend Anatoly Libgober, held in Jaca, Spain, in the central Pyrenees. We had a wonderful time there.
Moab Topology Conference Last May I went to this three-day conference in Moab - for once, a topology conference I could drive to! A very nice conference - I hope they do it again. Got to see Arches and Canyonlands (north) while I was there (stunning), not to mention Potash. (I went there to see the spot where my friend Bill composed his little fiddle tune of the same name.)
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 two or three years since we last played all together); The Erogenous Jones Band, with Kate Watters, Bob Ed Chambers, Hans Drexler, and Ean Dunder, a kind of all acoustic alt-rock cover band (now defunct, sadly).
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, and still help out with the planning. In 2011 the festival features Sam Bush and the David Grisman Sextet. Visit the web page: pickininthepines.org and buy a ticket - it's well worth the money. I'm also a mandolin instructor in FFOTM's Young Jammers program.
Musical stuff - Some old pictures and sound files of my mandolins, 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 amny 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, and for the last few years has been an integral part of the group that produces the Pickin' in the Pines Festival.
Keenan and David We have two sons, Keenan and David, ages 27 and 23. Keenan got an A.A. in Automotive Technology, at St. Cloud Community College in Minnesota, and now he's living in Tucson, assistant managing for O'Reilly's Auto Parts, and playing a cowboy at an outfit called Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros. David has an A.A. in dance from Coconino Community College, and is living in Berkeley, assistant managigng at the Peet's on Telegraph and dancing occasionally.
My parents My father, Alfred Falk, is 94 years old, living on his own in Prescott, Arizona. For the last 15 years or more he has been working 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. We miss her.
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.