Forthcoming events in this series


Mon, 28 Nov 2022
15:30
L5

Modular Functors and Factorization Homology

Lukas Woike
Abstract

A modular functor is defined as a system of mapping class group representations on vector spaces (the so-called conformal blocks) that is compatible with the gluing of surfaces. The notion plays an important role in the representation theory of quantum groups and conformal field theory. In my talk, I will give an introduction to the theory of modular functors and recall some classical constructions. Afterwards, I will explain the approach to modular functors via cyclic and modular operads and their bicategorical algebras. This will allow us to extend the known constructions of modular functors and to classify modular functors by certain cyclic algebras over the little disk operad for which an obstruction formulated in terms of factorization homology vanishes. (The talk is based to a different extent on different joint works with Adrien Brochier, Lukas Müller and Christoph Schweigert.)

Mon, 21 Nov 2022
15:30
L5

An SL₂(R) Casson-Lin invariant

Jacob Rasmussen
Abstract

Around 30 years ago, Lin defined an analog of the Casson invariant for knots. This invariant counts representations of the knot group into SU(2) which satisfy tr(ρ(m)) = c for some fixed c. As a function of c, the Casson-Lin invariant turns out to be given by the Levine-Tristram signature function.

If K is a small knot in S³, I'll describe a version of the Casson-Lin invariant which counts representations of the knot group into SL₂(R) with tr(ρ(m)) = c for c in [-2,2]. The sum of the SU(2) and SL₂(R) invariants is a constant h(K), independent of c. I'll discuss the proof of this fact and give some applications to the existence of real parabolic representations and left-orderings. This is joint work with Nathan Dunfield.

Mon, 14 Nov 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L5

CANCELLED -- Classifying rigid Frobenius algebras in Dijkgraaf-Witten categories and their local modules

Ana Ros Camacho
Abstract

THIS TALK IS CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS -- In this talk I will present classification results for rigid Frobenius algebras in Dijkgraaf–Witten categories ℨ( Vec(G)ᵚ ) over a field of arbitrary characteristic, generalising existing results by Davydov-Simmons. For this purpose, we provide a braided Frobenius monoidal functor from ℨ ( Vect(H)ᵚˡᴴ ) to ℨ( Vec(G)ᵚ ) for any subgroup H of G. I will also discuss about their categories of local modules, which are modular tensor categories  by results of Kirillov–Ostrik in the semisimple case and Laugwitz–Walton in the general case. Joint work with Robert Laugwitz (Nottingham) and Sam Hannah (Cardiff).

Mon, 07 Nov 2022
15:30
L5

From veering triangulations to dynamic pairs

Saul Schleimer
Abstract

Ideal triangulations were introduced by Thurston as a tool for studying hyperbolic three-manifolds.  Taut ideal triangulations were introduced by Lackenby as a tool for studying "optimal" representatives of second homology classes.

After these applications in geometry and topology, it is time for dynamics. Veering triangulations (taut ideal triangulations with certain decorations) were introduced by Agol to study the mapping tori of pseudo-Anosov homeomorphisms.  Gueritaud gave an alternative construction, and then Agol and Gueritaud generalised it to find veering triangulations of three-manifolds admitting pseudo-Anosov flows (without perfect fits).

We prove the converse of their result: that is, from any veering triangulation we produce a canonical dynamic pair of branched surfaces (in the sense of Mosher).  These give flows on appropriate Dehn fillings of the original manifold.  Furthermore, our construction and that of Agol--Gueritaud are inverses.  This then gives a "perfect" combinatorialisation of pseudo-Anosov flow (without perfect fits).

This is joint work with Henry Segerman.

Mon, 31 Oct 2022
15:30
L5

The Landau-Ginzburg – Conformal Field Theory Correspondence and Module Tensor Categories

Thomas Wassermann
Abstract

In this talk, I will first give a brief introduction to the Landau-Ginzburg -- Conformal Field Theory (LG-CFT) correspondence, a prediction from physics. This prediction links aspects of Landau-Ginzburg models, described by matrix factorisations for a polynomial known as the potential, with Conformal Field Theories, described by for example vertex operator algebras. While both sides of the correspondence have good mathematical descriptions, it is an open problem to give a mathematical formulation of the correspondence. 

After this introduction, I will discuss the only known realisation of this correspondence, for the potential $x^d$. For even $d$ this is a recent result, and I will give a sketch of the proof which uses the tools of module tensor categories

 I will not assume prior knowledge of matrix factorisations, CFTs, or module tensor categories. This talk is based on joint work with Ana Ros Camacho.

Mon, 24 Oct 2022
15:30
L5

Simple homotopy types of 4-manifolds

John Nicholson
Abstract

Two CW-complexes are simple homotopy equivalent if they are related by a sequence of collapses and expansions of cells. It implies homotopy equivalent as is implied by homeomorphic. This notion proved extremely useful in manifold topology and is central to the classification of non-simply connected manifolds up to homeomorphism. I will present the first examples of two 4-manifolds which are homotopy equivalent but not simple homotopy equivalent, as well as in all higher even dimensions. The examples are constructed using surgery theory and the s-cobordism theorem, and are distinguished using methods from algebraic number theory and algebraic K-theory. I will also discuss a number of new directions including progress on classifying the possible fundamental groups for which examples exist. This is joint work with Csaba Nagy and Mark Powell.

Mon, 17 Oct 2022
15:30
L5

4-manifolds with infinite cyclic fundamental group and knotted surfaces

Mark Powell
Abstract

I will present classification results for 4-manifolds with boundary and infinite cyclic fundamental group, obtained in joint work with Anthony Conway and with Conway and Lisa Piccirillo.  Time permitting, I will describe applications to knotted surfaces in simply connected 4-manifolds, and to investigating the difference between the relations of homotopy equivalence and stable homeomorphism. These will also draw on work with Patrick Orson and with Conway,  Diarmuid Crowley, and Joerg Sixt.

Mon, 10 Oct 2022
15:30
L5

On not the rational dualizing module for Aut(F_n)

Zachary Hines
Abstract

Bestvina--Feighn proved that Aut(F_n) is a rational duality group, i.e. there is a Q[Aut(F_n)]-module, called the rational dualizing module, and a form of Poincare duality relating the rational cohomology of Aut(F_n) to its homology with coefficients in this module. Bestvina--Feighn's proof does not give an explicit combinatorial description of the rational dualizing module of Aut(F_n). But, inspired by Borel--Serre's description of the rational dualizing module of arithmetic groups, Hatcher--Vogtmann constructed an analogous module for Aut(F_n) and asked if it is the rational dualizing module. In work with Miller, Nariman, and Putman, we show that Hatcher--Vogtmann's module is not the rational dualizing module.

Mon, 20 Jun 2022
15:30
L5

Coxeter groups acting on CAT(0) cube complexes

Michah Sageev
Abstract

We will give a general overview of how one gets groups to act on CAT(0) cube complexes, how compatible such actions are and how this plays out in the setting of Coxeter groups.

 

Mon, 06 Jun 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L5

Ribbon concordance is a partial order on knots

Ian Agol
(Berkeley)
Abstract

We show that ribbon concordance forms a partial ordering on the set of knots, answering a question of Gordon. The proof makes use of representation varieties of the knot groups to S O(N) and relations between them induced by a ribbon concordance.

Mon, 30 May 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L5

Higher symmetries of gerbes

Severin Bunk
(Oxford)
Abstract

Gerbes are geometric objects describing the third integer cohomology group of a manifold and the B-field in string theory. Like line bundles, they admit connections and gauge symmetries. In contrast to line bundles, however, there are now isomorphisms between gauge symmetries: the gauge group of a gerbe is a smooth 2-group. Starting from a hands-on example, I will explain gerbes and some of their properties. The main topic of this talk will then be the study of symmetries of gerbes on a manifold with G-action, and how these symmetries assemble into smooth 2-group extensions of G. In the last part, I will survey how this construction can be used to provide a new smooth model for the String group, via a theory of ∞-categorical principal bundles and group extensions.

Mon, 23 May 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L5

Product set growth in mapping class groups

Alice Kerr
(Oxford)
Abstract

A standard question in group theory is to ask if we can categorise the subgroups of a group in terms of their growth. In this talk we will be asking this question for uniform product set growth, a property that is stronger than the more widely understood notion of uniform exponential growth. We will see how considering acylindrical actions on hyperbolic spaces can help us, and give a particular application to mapping class groups.

 

Mon, 16 May 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L5

Duality groups and Cohen-Macaulay spaces

Ric Wade
(Oxford)
Abstract

Via Poincaré duality, fundamental groups of aspherical manifolds have (appropriately shifted) isomorphisms between their homology and cohomology. In a 1973 Inventiones paper, Bieri and Eckmann defined a broader notion of a Duality Group, where the isomorphism between homology and cohomology can be twisted by what they called a Dualizing Module. Examples of these groups in geometric group theory (after passing to a finite-index subgroup) include $GL(n,\mathbb{Z})$, mapping class groups, and automorphism groups of free groups.

In work-in-progress with Thomas Wasserman we are looking into the following puzzle: the examples of duality groups that we know of that do not come from manifolds all have classifying spaces that satisfy a weaker local condition called the Cohen-Macaulay property. These spaces also satisfy weaker (twisted) versions of Poincaé duality via their local homology sheaves (or local cohomology cosheaves), and we are attempting to understand more about the links between these geometric versions of duality and the algebraic notion of a duality group. The goal of the talk is to explain more about the words used in the above paragraphs and say where we have got to so far.



 

Mon, 09 May 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L4

Automorphisms of free groups and the spaces which they act on.

Armando Martino
(Southampton)
Abstract

We will review some open questions about automorphisms of free groups, give some partial answers, and explain the deformation spaces of trees that they act on, as well as the geometry of these spaces arising from the Lipschitz metric. This will be a gentle introduction to the topic, focused on introducing the concepts.

 

Mon, 02 May 2022

15:30 - 16:30
Online

Localization and decomposition

Rufus Willett
(University of Hawaii )
Abstract

Let X be a closed Riemannian manifold, and represent the algebra C(X) of continuous functions on X on the Hilbert space L^2(X) by multiplication.  Inspired by the heat kernel proof of the Atiyah-Singer index theorem, I'll explain how to describe K-homology (i.e. the dual theory to Atiyah-Hirzebruch K-theory) in terms of parametrized families of operators on L^2(X) that get more and more 'local' in X as time tends to infinity.

I'll then switch perspectives from C(X) -- the prototypical example of a commutative C*-algebra -- to noncommutative C*-algebras built from discrete groups, and explain how the underlying large-scale geometry of the groups can give rise to approximate 'decompositions' of the C*-algebras.  I'll then explain how to use these decompositions and localization in the sense above to compute K-homology, and the connection to some conjectures in topology, geometry, and C*-algebra theory.

Mon, 25 Apr 2022

15:30 - 16:30
L4

Knot theory and machine learning

Professor Marc Lackenby
((Oxford University) )
Abstract

Knot theory is divided into several subfields. One of these is hyperbolic knot theory, which is focused on the hyperbolic structure that exists on many knot complements. Another branch of knot theory is concerned with invariants that have connections to 4-manifolds, for example the knot signature and Heegaard Floer homology. In my talk, I will describe a new relationship between these two fields that was discovered with the aid of machine learning. Specifically, we show that the knot signature can be estimated surprisingly accurately in terms of hyperbolic invariants. We introduce a new real-valued invariant called the natural slope of a hyperbolic knot in the 3-sphere, which is defined in terms of its cusp geometry. Our main result is that twice the knot signature and the natural slope differ by at most a constant times the hyperbolic volume divided by the cube of the injectivity radius. This theorem has applications to Dehn surgery and to 4-ball genus. We will also present a refined version of the inequality where the upper bound is a linear function of the volume, and the slope is corrected by terms corresponding to short geodesics that have odd linking number with the knot. My talk will outline the proofs of these results, as well as describing the role that machine learning played in their discovery.

This is joint work with Alex Davies, Andras Juhasz, and Nenad Tomasev

Mon, 07 Mar 2022
15:30
L5

Some applications of the geometry of surfaces to Biology

Joel Hass
(University of California Davis)
Abstract

Abstract: Almost everything we encounter in our 3-dimensional world is a surface - the outside of a solid object. Comparing the shapes of surfaces is, not surprisingly, a fundamental problem in both theoretical and applied mathematics. Results from the mathematical theory of surfaces are now being used to study objects such as bones, brain cortices, proteins and biomolecules.  This talk will discuss recent joint work with Patrice Koehl that introduces a new metric on the space of Riemannian surfaces of genus-zero and some applications to biological surfaces.

Mon, 28 Feb 2022
15:30
L5

The centres of String 2-groups

Christoph Weis
Abstract

Let $G$ be a compact connected Lie group and $k \in H^4(BG,\mathbb{Z})$ a cohomology class. The String 2-group $G_k$ is the central extension of $G$ by the smooth 2-group $BU(1)$ classified by $k$. It has a close relationship to the level $k$ extension of the loop group $LG$.
We will introduce smooth 2-groups and the associated notion of centre. We then compute this centre for the String 2-groups, leveraging the power of maximal tori familiar from classical Lie theory.
The centre turns out to recover the invertible positive energy representations of $LG$ at level $k$ (as long as we exclude factors of $E_8$ at level 2).

 

Mon, 21 Feb 2022
15:30
L5

Trisected 4-manifolds and link surgery

Abigail Thompson
Abstract

Gay and Kirby formulated a new way to decompose a (closed, orientable) 4-manifold M, called a trisection.    I’ll describe how to translate from a classical framed link diagram for M to a trisection diagram.   The links so obtained lie on Heegaard surfaces in the 3-sphere,  and have surgeries yielding some number of copies of S^1XS^2.   We can describe families of “elementary" links which have such surgeries, and one can ask whether all links with few components having such surgeries lie in these families.  The answer is almost certainly no.   We nevertheless give a small piece of evidence in favor of a positive answer for a special family of 2-component links.    This is joint work with Rob Kirby.  Gay and Kirby formulated a new way to decompose a (closed, orientable) 4-manifold M, called a trisection.    I’ll describe how to translate from a classical framed link diagram for M to a trisection diagram.   The links so obtained lie on Heegaard surfaces in the 3-sphere,  and have surgeries yielding some number of copies of S^1XS^2.   We can describe families of “elementary" links which have such surgeries, and one can ask whether all links with few components having such surgeries lie in these families.  The answer is almost certainly no.   We nevertheless give a small piece of evidence in favor of a positive answer for a special family of 2-component links.    This is joint work with Rob Kirby.  

Mon, 14 Feb 2022
15:30
L5

Rigidity of minimal Lagrangian diffeomorphisms between spherical cone surfaces

Andrea Seppi
(University of Grenoble-Alpes)
Abstract

Minimal Lagrangian maps play an important role in Teichmüller theory, with important existence and uniqueness results for hyperbolic surfaces obtained by Labourie, Schoen, Bonsante-Schlenker, Toulisse and others. In positive curvature, it is thus natural to ask whether one can find minimal Lagrangian diffeomorphisms between two spherical surfaces with cone points. In this talk we will show that the answer is negative, unless the two surfaces are isometric. As an application, we obtain a generalization of Liebmann’s theorem for branched immersions of constant curvature in Euclidean space. This is joint work with Christian El Emam.

 

Mon, 07 Feb 2022
15:30
C3

Free-by-cyclic groups and their automorphisms

Naomi Andrew
(Southampton University)
Abstract

Free-by-cyclic groups are easy to define – all you need is an automorphism of F_n. Their properties (for example hyperbolicity, or relative hyperbolicity) depend on this defining automorphism, but not always transparently. I will introduce these groups and some of their properties, and connect some to properties of the defining automorphism. I'll then discuss some ideas and techniques we can use to understand their automorphisms, including finding useful actions on trees and relationships with certain subgroups of Out(F_n). (This is joint work with Armando Martino.)

Mon, 31 Jan 2022
15:30
Virtual

Localization and decomposition

Rufus Willett
(Hawaii)
Abstract

Let X be a closed Riemannian manifold, and represent the algebra C(X) of continuous functions on X on the Hilbert space L^2(X) by multiplication.  Inspired by the heat kernel proof of the Atiyah-Singer index theorem, I'll explain how to describe K-homology (i.e. the dual theory to Atiyah-Hirzebruch K-theory) in terms of parametrized families of operators on L^2(X) that get more and more 'local' in X as time tends to infinity.

I'll then switch perspectives from C(X) -- the prototypical example of a commutative C*-algebra -- to noncommutative C*-algebras coming from discrete groups, and explain how the underlying large-scale geometry of the groups can give rise to approximate 'decompositions' of the C*-algebras.  I'll then explain how to use these decompositions and localization in the sense above to compute K-homology, and the connection to some conjectures in topology, geometry, and C*-algebra theory.

Mon, 24 Jan 2022
15:30
Virtual

Deformations of ordinary Calabi-Yau varieties

Lukas Brantner
(Oxford)
Abstract

Over the complex numbers, the Bomolgorov-Tian-Todorev theorem asserts that Calabi-Yau varieties have unobstructed deformations, so any n^{th} order deformation extends to higher order.  We prove an analogue of this statement for the nicest kind of Calabi-Yau varieties in characteristic p, namely ordinary ones, using derived algebraic geometry. In fact, we produce canonical lifts to characteristic zero, thereby generalising results of Serre-Tate, Deligne-Nygaard, Ward, and Achinger-Zdanowic. This is joint work with Taelman.

Mon, 17 Jan 2022

15:30 - 16:30
Virtual

The link surgery formula and plumbed 3-manifolds

Ian Zemke
(Princeton)
Abstract

Lattice homology is a combinatorial invariant of plumbed 3-manifolds due to Nemethi. The definition is a formalization of Ozsvath and Szabo's computation of the Heegaard Floer homology of plumbed 3-manifolds. Nemethi conjectured that lattice homology is isomorphic to Heegaard Floer homology. For a restricted class of plumbings, this isomorphism is known to hold, due to work of Ozsvath-Szabo, Nemethi, and Ozsvath-Stipsicz-Szabo. By using the Manolescu-Ozsvath link surgery formula for Heegaard Floer homology, we prove the conjectured isomorphism in general. In this talk, we will talk about aspects of the proof, and some related topics and extensions of the result.

Mon, 29 Nov 2021
15:45
Virtual

Knot Floer homology contructions and the Pong Algebra

Zoltan Szabo
(Princeton University)
Abstract

In a joint work with Peter Ozsvath we have developed algebraic invariants for knots using a family of bordered knot algebras. The goal of this lecture is to review these constructions and discuss some of the latest developments.