Geordie WilliamsonGeordie Williamson (born 1981 in Bowral, Australia) is an Australian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Sydney. He became the youngest living Fellow of the Royal Society when he was elected in 2018 at the age of 36.
EducationEducated at Chevalier College, Williamson studied from 1999 at the University of Sydney and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 2003 and then at the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg, where he received his doctorate in 2008 under the supervision of Wolfgang Soergel.
Research and careerAfter his PhD, Williamson was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, based at St. Peter's College, Oxford and from 2011 until 2016 he was at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics.
Williamson deals with a geometric representation of group theory. With Ben Elias, he gave a new proof and a simplification of the theory of the Kazhdan–Lusztig conjectures (previously proved in 1981 by both Beilinson–Bernstein and Brylinski–Kashiwara). For this purpose, they built on works by Wolfgang Soergel and developed a purely algebraic Hodge theory of Soergel bimodules about polynomial rings, In this context, they also succeeded in proving the long-standing positive presumption of positivity for the coefficients of the Kazhdan–Lusztig polynomials for Coxeter groups. For Weyl groups (special Coxeter groups, which are connected to Lie groups), David Kazhdan and George Lusztig succeeded in doing so by identifying the polynomials with certain invariants (local intersection cohomology) of Schubert varieties. Elias and Williamson were able to follow this path of proof also for more general groups of reflection (Coxeter groups), although there is no geometrical interpretation in contrast to the case of the Weyl groups.
He is also known for several counterexamples. In 1980, Lusztig suggested a character formula for simple modules of reductive groups over fields of finite characteristic p. The conjecture was proved in 1994 by Henning Haahr Andersen, Jens Carsten Jantzen and Wolfgang Soergel for sufficiently large group-specific characteristics (without explicit bound) and later by Peter Fiebig for a very high explicitly stated bound. Williamson found several infinite families of counterexamples to the generally suspected validity limits of Lusztig's conjecture. He also found counterexamples to a 1990 conjecture of Gordon James on symmetric groups. His work also provided new perspectives on the respective conjectures.