The $n$-stranded pure surface braid group of a genus g surface can be described as the subgroup of the pure mapping class group of a surface of genus $g$ with $n$-punctures which becomes trivial on the closed surface. I am interested in the least dilatation of pseudo-Anosov pure surface braids. For the $n=1$ case, upper and lower bounds on the least dilatation were proved by Dowdall and Aougab—Taylor, respectively. In this talk, I will describe the upper and lower bounds I have proved as a function of $g$ and $n$.

# Past Junior Topology and Group Theory Seminar

It is a classical theorem of Magnus that the word problem for one-relator groups is solvable; its precise complexity remains unknown. A geometric characterization of the complexity is given by the Dehn function. I will present joint work with Daniel Woodhouse showing that one-relator groups have a rich collection of Dehn functions, including the Brady--Bridson snowflake groups on which our work relies.

Cube Complexes with Coupled Links (CLCC) are a special family of non-positively curved cube complexes that are constructed by specifying what the links of their vertices should be. In this talk I will introduce the construction of CLCCs and try to motivate it by explaining how one can use information about the local geometry of a cube complex to deduce global properties of its fundamental group (e.g. hyperbolicity and cohomological dimension). On the way, I will also explain what fly maps are and how to use them to deduce that a CAT(0) cube complex is hyperbolic.

We will discuss topological and algebraic aspects of splittings of free groups. In particular we will look at the core of two splittings in terms of CAT(0) cube complexes and systems of surfaces in a doubled handlebody.

CAT(0) spaces are defined as having triangles that are no fatter than Euclidean triangles, so it is no surprise that under special conditions you find pieces of the Euclidean plane appearing in CAT(0) spaces. What is surprising though is how weak these special conditions seem to be. I will present some well known results of this phenomenon, along with detailed sketch proofs.

I will talk about the properties of algebraic integers that can arise as stretch factors of pseudo-Anosoc maps. I will mention a conjecture of Fried on which numbers supposedly arise and Thurston’s theorem that proves a similar result in the context of automorphisms of free groups. Then I will talk about recent developments on the Fried conjecture namely, every Salem number has a power arising as a stretch factor.

I will discuss a wonderful structure theorem for finitely generated group containing a codimension one polycyclic-by-finite subgroup, due to Martin Dunwoody and Eric Swenson. I will explain how the theorem is motivated by the torus theorem for 3-manifolds, and examine some of the consequences of this theorem.

Stable commutator length (scl) is a well established invariant of group elements g (write scl(g)) and has both geometric and algebraic meaning.

It is a phenomenon that many classes of non-positively curved groups have a gap in stable commutator length: For every non-trivial element g, scl(g) > C for some C>0. Such gaps may be found in hyperbolic groups, Baumslag-solitair groups, free products, Mapping class groups, etc.

However, the exact size of this gap usually unknown, which is due to a lack of a good source of “quasimorphisms”.

In this talk I will construct a new source of quasimorphisms which yield optimal gaps and show that for Right-Angled Artin Groups and their subgroups the gap of stable commutator length is exactly 1/2. I will also show this gap for certain amalgamated free products.

In a recent paper Friedl, Zentner and Livingston asked when a sum of torus knots is concordant to an alternating knot. After a brief analysis of the problem in its full generality, I will describe some effective obstructions based on Floer type theories.