Postby **bemonocled** » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:19 am

Northwestern has slightly more people working in algebraic geometry and topology than UCLA, though I have no idea which one is 'better' is any sense. When I visited UCLA I talked to a couple of the people that worked in/around algebraic geometry, and it seemed like they dealt with some of the more esoteric subjects such as motives, A^1 homotopy theory, and tensor triangulated categories (in which algebraic geometry faithfully 'embeds' in some sense). The only topologist I talked to was Kefeng Liu, and the topology he focuses on is mostly stuff relevant to mathematical physics. I didn't ask him about the other topologists because applications to mathematical physics is the primary thing I am interested in.

The weather around the Chicago area is abominable, though. I grew up in the general vicinity and weather was definitely a strong reason for me to leave when I went to college. In comparison, the weather in LA can't be beat. This is reflected in the cost of living but the grad students there said that the stipend is still plenty to live on, and since UCLA is in such a rich area they can charge $60-$100 an hour for tutoring if you need extra money.