The ordinary braid group ${\mathrm Br}_n$ is a well-known algebraic structure which encodes configurations of $n$ non-touching strands (“braids”) up to continious transformations (“isotopies”). A classical result of Khovanov and Thomas states that there is a natural categorical action of ${\mathrm Br}_n$ on the derived category of the cotangent bundle of the variety of complete flags in ${\mathbb C}^n$.

In this talk, I will introduce a new structure: the category ${\mathrm GBr}_n$ of generalised braids. These are the braids whose strands are allowed to touch in a certain way. They have multiple endpoint configurations and can be non-invertible, thus forming a category rather than a group. In the context of triangulated categories, it is natural to impose certain relations which result in the notion of a skein-triangulated representation of ${\mathrm GBr}_n$. A decade-old conjecture states that there is a skein-triangulated action of ${\mathrm GBr}_n$ on the cotangent bundles of the varieties of full and partial flags in ${\mathbb C}^n$. We prove this conjecture for $n = 3$. We also show that, in fact, any categorical action of ${\mathrm Br}_n$ can be lifted to a categorical action of ${\mathrm GBr}_n$, generalising a result of Ed Segal. This is a joint work with Rina Anno and Lorenzo De Biase.