Algebraic geometry studies solution sets of polynomial equations by geometric methods. This type of equations is ubiquitous in mathematics and much more versatile and flexible than one might as first expect (for example, every compact smooth manifold is diffeomorphic to the zero set of a certain number of real polynomials in R^N). On the other hand, polynomials show remarkable rigidity properties in other situations and can be defined over any ring, and this leads to important arithmetic ramifications of algebraic geometry.
Methodically, two contrasting cross-fertilizing aspects have pervaded the subject: one providing formidable abstract machinery and striving for maximum generality, the other experimental and computational, focusing on illuminating examples and forming the concrete geometric backbone of the first aspect, often uncovering fascinating phenomena overlooked from the bird's eye view of the abstract approach.
In the lectures, we will introduce the category of (quasi-projective) varieties, morphisms and rational maps between them, and then proceed to a study of some of the most basic geometric attributes of varieties: dimension, tangent spaces, regular and singular points, degree. Moreover, we will present many concrete examples, e.g., rational normal curves, Grassmannians, flag and Schubert varieties, surfaces in projective three-space and their lines, Veronese and Segre varieties etc.
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