"I must go to Chicago, father," said I, one evening, after we had been discussing our domestic relations with more than usual earnestness. "Why go to Chicago, Philip? What put that idea into your head?" replied my father, with a kind of deprecatory smile. "I don't feel as though I could live any longer in this state of doubt and uncertainty." "Really, Philip, I don't think you need worry yourself to that extent." "I can't help it. I want to know whether my mother is alive or dead. She may have been in her grave for a year for aught we know."
Many important functions of mathematical physics are defined as integrals depending on parameters. The Picard-Lefschetz theory studies how analytic and qualitative properties of such integrals (regularity, algebraicity, ramification, singular points, etc.) depend on the monodromy of corresponding integration cycles. In this book, V. A. Vassiliev presents several versions of the Picard-Lefschetz theory, including the classical local monodromy theory of singularities and completeintersections, Pham's generalized Picard-Lefschetz formulas, stratified Picard-Lefschetz theory, and also twisted versions of all these theories with applications to integrals of multivalued forms. The author also shows how these versions of the Picard-Lefschetz theory are used in studying a variety ofproblems arising in many areas of mathematics and mathematical physics. In particular, he discusses the following classes of functions: volume functions arising in the Archimedes-Newton problem of integrable bodies; Newton-Coulomb potentials; fundamental solutions of hyperbolic partial differential equations; multidimensional hypergeometric functions generalizing the classical Gauss hypergeometric integral. The book is geared toward a broad audience of graduate students, research mathematiciansand mathematical physicists interested in algebraic geometry, complex analysis, singularity theory, asymptotic methods, potential theory, and hyperbolic operators.
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