The topology of real algebraic varieties is the study of the topology of objects that can be defined real algebraically, particularly the restrictions that the real algebraic structure imposes on the topology. The main problem that motivated interest in this area is the so called Hilbert's sixteenth problem that was suggested by Hilbert in his famous address: to classify, up to isotopy, non-singular planar real algebraic curves of a given degree. Topologically, a non-singular real algebraic curve is merely the union of circles (in fact, the fixed point set a complex conjugation on a Riemann surface), and its isotopy class is simply determined by the arrangement of these circles with respect to each other. Nevertheless, a complete classification, which would mean identifying which of these arrangements can be realized as the zero set of a real polynomial in two variables of a given degree, has as yet only been successful up to degree 7. However, it has led to several tangential questions and generalizations, which we will discuss after a brief overview of the motivating problem.
School of Mathematical Sciences
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