The geometry of the Einstein equations

As part of the National Research Agenda (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda, NWA) the department of Mathematics at the VU will host a project on the Einstein equations, starting 1 January 2018. Professors Rob van der Vorst and Jan Bouwe van den Berg have secured a research grant within the consortium “Gravity -- a new voyage of discovery".

12/04/2017 | 3:05 PM


As part of the National Research Agenda (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda, NWA) the department of Mathematics at the VU will host a project on the Einstein equations, starting 1 January 2018. Professors Rob van der Vorst and Jan Bouwe van den Berg have secured a research grant within the consortium “Gravity -- a new voyage of discovery".

The NWA revolves around a collection of questions to which the Dutch research community will pay particular attention in the coming years. This includes fundamental questions about matter, space and time. To kickstart this programme the national research foundation NWO has awarded funds for eight projects. One of these focusses on innovative research problems related to gravity, which are particularly timely in view of the recent spectacular detection of gravitational waves.

In the project at the department of mathematics, postdoctoral researcher Thomas Rot will connect modern differential geometry with the theory of gravity. The Einstein equations, which describe the geometry of space and time, are very difficult to solve. More than a century ago, the prominent mathematician David Hilbert proposed to study the Einstein equations using an optimisation method. In this optimisation problem one needs to find mountain passes in an infinite dimensional mountainous landscape. Such problems turn out to be so complicated that only recently mathematical techniques for their investigation have been developed. The goal of this project is to examine how these modern methods from geometry, topology and the theory of geometric partial differential equations can lead to novel insights in the existence of yet unknown solutions of Einstein's equations.