Abstract: In joint work with Emmanuel Kowalski and Philippe Michel, we prove two different estimates on sums of coefficients of modular forms---one related to L-functions and another to the level of distribution. A key step in the argument is a careful analysis of vanishing cycles, a tool originally developed by Lefschetz to study the topology of algebraic varieties. We will explain why this is helpful for these problems.

Abstract: The breakthrough work of Marcus, Spielman, and Srivastava showed that every bipartite Ramanujan graph has a bipartite Ramanujan double cover. Chris Hall, Doron Puder, and I generalized this to covers of arbitrary degree. I will explain the proof, with emphasis on how group theory and representation theory are useful for this problem.

Abstract: I will explain the analogy between trace functions over finite fields defined by exponential sums and certain classical functions on the complex numbers defined by integrals of exponentials. There are close analogies, largely due to Katz, that sometimes allow one to guess results in one domain from results in the other. For instance, many important properties of Kloosterman sums are related to facts about Bessel functions. I will explain some of these correspondences, and how to use them to understand exponential sums.