Prize for Dr. Gebhard Martin

Friends of the TUM: Doctoral Prize 2018

11 December 2018
Verleihung des Promotionspreises der Freunde der TUM an Dr. Gebhard Martin

Awarding of the Doctoral Prize of the Friends of the TUM to Dr. Gebhard Martin – from the left:  Dr. Andreas Wendt, Chairman of the Board of the Friends Association, Dr. Gebhard Martin and Prof. Christian Liedtke.

Dr. Gebhard Martin wins the 2018 prize for the best doctoral thesis from the Friends Association of the TUM. Each year, the Friends' Association honors excellent doctoral theses and professorial dissertations. The Department of Mathematics is asked to make proposals for awardees every two years. The prize was awarded on Friday, 7 December within the members meeting of the Friends of the TUM, which took place in the BMW Research and Innovation Center (FIZ). 


Martin studied within the TopMath program and completed his doctorate under the supervision of Christian Liedtke, Professor for Algebra. He successfully defended his doctoral thesis "Automorphisms of Enriques Surfaces" in 2018 with the best result "summa cum laude". His interest in Enriques surfaces were already apparent within his Master's thesis "On Extremal Enriques Surfaces", which was similarly honored with the TopMath Award 2016.

Complex Enriques Surfaces

Enriquesfläche nach Ferederigo Enriques

Frederigo Enriques constructed a complex Enriques Surface in 1896 as the desingulari­sation of the zero set of a degree 6 polynomial, which is singular along the edges of a tetrahedron.

In 1896, the mathematician Federigo Enriques constructed the first example of a complex Enriques surface. These algebraic surfaces are not rational and generically have an infinite number of symmetries, or so-called automorphisms. But the more complicated and specific the configuration of smooth, rational curves on an Enriques surface is, then the more asymmetrical the surface itself is. 

However, the automorphism group of an Enriques surface can nonetheless be infinite, as Gino Fano proved in 1944. Ultimately, the researchers Shigeyuki Kondo and Viacheslav Nikulin succeeded in classifying Enriques surfaces with finite automorphism groups over the complex numbers.

Automorphisms of Enriques surfaces – a question of characteristic

Graph: Konfiguration von glatten, rationalen Kurven auf Enriquesfläche

This graph describes the configuration of smooth, rational curves on one of the Enriques surfaces with finite automorphic groups. 

In his thesis "Automorphisms of Enriques surfaces" Martin classifies Enriques surfaces with finite automorphism groups completely. He generalises the results of Kondo and Nikulin, as well as other results on symmetry groups of Enriques surfaces over the complex numbers to arbitrary fields. Hereby he concentrates primarily on fields with positive characteristics.  

The characteristic is an invariant of the field, which is the number of times the 1 in this field must be added to itself in order to become 0. If that never happens - for example over the complex numbers - then the field has characteristic 0. 

What is particularly interesting in this case: whilst the classification in larger characteristics, at least 7, is the same as over the complex numbers and is only minimally different from the smaller characteristics 3 and 5, when dealing with the characteristic 2 a completely different list of Enriques surfaces with finite automorphism groups are the result. Within each characteristic a classification of such Enriques surfaces is nonetheless possible.


Since April 2018, Dr. Gebhard Martin is a postdoctoral fellow of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn. There he continues to research algebraic surfaces and the resulting questions on singularity theory and higher-dimensional geometry.