Past Topology Seminar

13 March 2017
Michael Weiss

It is hard to detect the exotic nature of an exotic n-sphere M 
in homotopical features of the diffeomorphism group Diff(M). The well 
known reason is that Diff(M) contains a big topological subgroup H which 
is identified with the group of diffeomorphisms rel boundary of the 
n-disk, with a small coset space Diff(M)/H which is invariably homotopy 
equivalent to O(n+1). Therefore it seems that our only chance to detect 
the exotic nature of M in homotopical features of Diff(M) is to see 
something in this extension.  (To make sense of "homotopical features of 
Diff(M)" one should think of Diff(M) as a space with a multiplication 
acting on an n-sphere.) I am planning to report on PhD work of O Sommer 
and calculations due to myself and Sommer which, if all goes well, would 
show that Diff(M) has some exotic homotopical properties in the case 
where M is the 7-dimensional exotic sphere of Kervaire-Milnor fame which 
bounds a compact smooth framed 8-manifold of signature 8. The 
theoretical work is based on classical smoothing theory and the 
calculations would be based on ever-ongoing (>30 years) joint work 
Weiss-Williams, and might give me and Williams another valuable 
incentive to finish it.

13 March 2017
Hongyun Yon

We construct the diffeomorphism-equivariant “scanning map” associated to the configuration spaces of manifolds with twisted summable labels. The scanning map is also functorial with respect to embeddings of manifolds. To adapt P. Salvatore's idea of non-commutative summation into twisted setting, we define a bundle of Fulton-MacPherson operads over a manifold M whose fibres are built within tangent spaces of M.

13 March 2017
Terry Wall

In 1956 Milnor published a paper proving that there are manifolds homeomorphic to the 7-sphere but not diffeomorphic to it. Seeking to generalise this example, he was led in around 1960 to introduce a construction for  killing homotopy groups of manifolds. When this was generalised to killing relative homotopy groups it became a general and powerful method of construction. An obstruction arises to killing the last group, and the analysis of this obstruction in general leads to a new theory.

6 March 2017
Ursula Hamenstaedt

Any closed 3-manifold can be obtained by glueing two handle bodies along their boundary. For a fixed such glueing, any other differs by changing the glueing map by an element in the mapping class group. Beginning with an idea of Dunfield and Thurston, we can use a random walk on the mapping class group to construct random 3-manifolds. I will report on recent work on the structure of such manifolds, in particular in view of tower of coverings and their topological growth: Torsion homology growth, the minimal degree of a cover with positive Betti number, expander families. I will in particularly explain the connection to some open questions about the mapping class group.

27 February 2017
Ulrike Tillmann

For mapping class groups of surfaces it is well-understood that their homology stability is closely related to the fact that they give rise to an infinite loop space. Indeed, they define an operad whose algebras group complete to infinite loop spaces.

In recent work with Basterra, Bobkova, Ponto and Yaekel we define operads with homology stability (OHS) more generally and prove that they are infinite loop space operads in the above sense. The strong homology stability results of Galatius and Randal-Williams for moduli spaces of manifolds can be used to construct examples of OHSs. As a consequence the map to K-theory defined by the action of the diffeomorphisms on the middle dimensional homology can be shown to be a map of infinite loop spaces.

20 February 2017
Andre Henriques

Elliptic cohomology is a family of generalised cohomology theories
$Ell_E^*$ parametrised by an elliptic curve $E$ (over some ring $R$).
Just like many other cohomology theories, elliptic cohomology admits
equivariant versions. In this talk, I will recall an old conjectural
description of elliptic cohomology, due to G. Segal, S. Stolz and P.
Teichner. I will explain how that conjectural description led me to
suspect that there should exist a generalisation of equivariant
elliptic cohomology, where the group of equivariance gets replaced by
a fusion category. Finally, I will construct $C$-equivariant elliptic
cohomology when $C$ is a fusion category, and $R$ is a ring of
characteristc zero.

13 February 2017
Noah Snyder

The cobordism hypothesis gives a correspondence between the
framed local topological field theories with values in C and a fully
dualizable objects in C.  Changing framing gives an O(n) action on the
space of local TFTs, and hence by the cobordism hypothesis it gives a
(homotopy coherent) action of O(n) on the space of fully dualizable
objects in C.  One example of this phenomenon is that O(3) acts on the
space of fusion categories.  In fact, O(3) acts on the larger space of
finite tensor categories.  I'll describe this action explicitly and
discuss its relationship to the double dual, Radford's theorem,
pivotal structures, and spherical structures.  This is part of work in
progress joint with Chris Douglas and Chris Schommer-Pries.

6 February 2017
Mark Hagen

Given two actions of a group $G$ on trees $T_1,T_2$, Guirardel introduced the "core", a $G$--cocompact CAT(0) subspace of $T_1\times
T_2$.  The covolume of the core is a natural notion of "intersection number" for the two tree actions (for example, if $G$ is a surface group
and $T_1,T_2$ are Bass-Serre trees associated to splittings along some curves, this "intersection number" is the one you'd expect).  We
generalise this construction by considering a fixed finitely-presented group $G$ equipped with finitely many essential, cocompact actions on
CAT(0) cube complexes $X_1,...,X_d$.  Inside $X=X_1\times ... \times X_d$, we find a $G$--invariant subcomplex $C$ which, although not convex
or necessarily CAT(0), has each component isometrically embedded with respect to the $\ell_1$ metric on $X$ (the key point is this change from
the CAT(0) to the $\ell_1$ viewpoint).  In the case where $d=2$ and $X_1,X_2$ are simplicial trees, $C$ is the Guirardel core.  Many
features of the Guirardel core generalise, and I will summarise these. For example, if the cubulations $G\to Aut(X_i)$ are "essentially
different", then $C$ is connected and $G$--cocompact.  Time permitting, I will discuss an application, namely a new proof of Nielsen realisation
for finite subgroups of $Out(F_n)$.  This talk is based on ongoing joint work with Henry Wilton.

23 January 2017

Large-scale homology computations are often rendered tractable by discrete Morse theory. Every discrete Morse function on a given cell complex X produces a Morse chain complex whose chain groups are spanned by critical cells and whose homology is isomorphic to that of X. However, the space-level information is typically lost because very little is known about how critical cells are attached to each other. In this talk, we discretize a beautiful construction of Cohen, Jones and Segal in order to completely recover the homotopy type of X from an overlaid discrete Morse function.