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Abstract
Characteristic classes in their various guises (Chern classes in complex geometry, Stiefel-Whitney and Pontrjagen classes in real geometry, etc.) underlay major 20th century mathematical developments in a vast range of areas, including topology, global analysis, differential geometry, complex variables, algebraic geometry, number theory. PDE's, etc. Their roots go back to the Euler characteristic and they began as invariants of manifolds and vector bundles. But in recent decades have very fruitfully been extended and applied in ever more general settings. This talk will give an introductory survey which will not assume any prior familiarity with them. |
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