A two-dimensional, minimally Supersymmetric Quantum Field Theory is "nullhomotopic" if it can be deformed to one with spontaneous supersymmetry breaking, including along deformations that are allowed to "flow up" along RG flow lines. SQFTs modulo nullhomotopic SQFTs form a graded abelian group $SQFT_\bullet$. There are many SQFTs with nonzero index; these are definitely not nullhomotopic, and indeed represent nontorision classes in $SQFT_\bullet$. But relations to topological modular forms suggests that $SQFT_\bullet$ also has rich torsion. Based on an analysis of mock modularity and holomorphic anomalies, I will describe explicitly a "secondary invariant" of SQFTs and use it to show that a certain element of $SQFT_3$ has exact order $24$. This work is joint with D. Gaiotto and E. Witten.

# Topology Seminar

Please note that the list below only shows forthcoming events, which may not include regular events that have not yet been entered for the forthcoming term. Please see the past events page for a list of all seminar series that the department has on offer.

A group is said to satisfy the Tits Alternative if its finitely generated subgroups exhibit a striking dichotomy: they are either "big" (they contain a non-abelian free subgroup) or "small" (they are virtually soluble). Many groups of geometric interest have been shown to satisfy the Tits Alternative: linear groups, mapping class groups of hyperbolic surfaces, etc. In this talk, I will explain how one can use ideas from group actions in negative curvature to prove such a dichotomy. In particular, I will show how one can prove a strengthening of the Tits Alternative for a large class of Artin groups. This is joint work with Piotr Przytycki.

For any word w in a free group of rank r>0, and any compact group G, w induces a `word map' from G^r to G by substitutions of elements of G for the letters of w. We may also choose the r elements of G independently with respect to Haar measure on G, and then apply the word map. This gives a random element of G whose distribution depends on w. An interesting observation is that this distribution doesn't change if we change w by an automorphism of the free group. It is a wide open question whether the measures induced by w on compact groups determine w up to automorphisms.

My talk will be mostly about the case G = U(n), the n by n complex unitary matrices. The technical tool we use is a precise formula for the moments of the distribution induced by w on U(n). In the formula, there is a surprising appearance of concepts from infinite group theory, more specifically, Euler characteristics of mapping class groups of surfaces. I'll explain how our formula allows us to make progress on the question described above.

This is joint work with Doron Puder (Tel Aviv).

For a semisimple modular tensor category the Reshetikhin-Turaev construction yields an extended three-dimensional topological field theory and hence by restriction a modular functor. By work of Lyubachenko-Majid the construction of a modular functor from a modular tensor category remains possible in the non-semisimple case. We explain that the latter construction is the shadow of a derived modular functor featuring homotopy coherent mapping class group actions on chain complex valued conformal blocks and a version of factorization and self-sewing via homotopy coends. On the torus we find a derived version of the Verlinde algebra, an algebra over the little disk operad (or more generally a little bundles algebra in the case of equivariant field theories). The concepts will be illustrated for modules over the Drinfeld double of a finite group in finite characteristic. This is joint work with Christoph Schweigert (Hamburg).