Welcome to Uli Walther's Background Page

Since early childhood I have been in love with numbers. My relationship with them became more serious when I entered the ``Spezialklassen fuer Mathematik und Physik'' in Halle (East Germany), a high school associated to the Martin-Luther University of Halle--Wittenberg. These two years became a milestone in my development towards being a mathematician.

After high school I had the pleasure to go through a year and a half of civil service. My very important job was to defend East Berlin, the quasi-capital of East Germany (technically, neither East nor West Germany were supposed to have any capital), against air raids from the West. We were fortunate that they never attacked, because our state-of-the-art missiles from Big Brother could fly only half the speed of the imperialistic war planes from the other side of the anti-fascist protection wall.

After that exhilarating experience I returned to the the Martin-Luther University and enrolled as a student of mathematics, minoring in physics. During my sophomore year the ``iron curtain'' fell, which made it possible for me to spend a year at the University of Sheffield (UK). There I completed a Master of Science degree under the supervision of R.Y. Sharp. Returning to Germany in the following year I finished my Diplom degree under the supervision of K. Drechsler and P. Schenzel. As in England, the topic of my thesis was centered around the study of singularities. After consultations with my advisors I decided to come to the University of Minnesota for further studies under the guidance of Gennady Lyubeznik, who was my doctoral thesis advisor.

My arrival in Minnesota marked also the beginning of my career as a teacher of mathematics (although I had been a teaching assistant for a few courses in Halle). As a graduate student I taught a wide variety of courses ranging from abstract algebra and introductory real analysis through calculus to unusual topics such as mathematics for elementary school teachers or excursions in mathematics. I like to teach such non-standard courses. I think it is a lot of fun to explain in how many ways mathematics shows up in daily life and how it may be used. On the other hand I very much enjoy teaching courses at graduate level. Once for example I gave a ``summer class'' for four of my fellow students. I tried to cover approximately a one-semester course of algebraic geometry, which is my favorite area of mathematics. I also gave two long series of talks in the commutative algebra seminar in later years, devoted to the Mordell conjecture and algorithmic methods in algebraic geometry, respectively.

My thesis, which was completed in May 1999, deals with applications of differential operators to algebraic geometry and commutative algebra. In particular I work on algorithms and their computer implementations that determine geometric invariants such as de Rham cohomology. If you are interested in more details, please visit the research page.

I was next a postdoc in heaven, or as near as one gets to that while alive and in mathematics: at MSRI in Berkeley. In August 2000 I arrived at Purdue where I am now Professor of Mathematics. The academic year 2002/2003 I spent in part at MSRI and in part in Leipzig as a Humboldt Research Fellow visiting Juergen Stueckrad at the Universitaet and Juergen Jost at the Max Planck Institut. Similarly, I was back at MSRI for a sabbatical as a Research Professor for the Spring of 2013.
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