Past Topology Seminar

18 June 2018

A proper simply connected one-ended metric space is call semi-stable if any two proper rays are properly homotopic.  A finitely presented group is called semi-stable if the universal cover of its presentation 2-complex is semi-stable.  
It is conjectured that every finitely presented group is semi-stable.  We will examine the known results for the cases where the group in question is relatively hyperbolic or CAT(0). 

11 June 2018

Topological field theories give rise to a wealth of algebraic structures, extending
the E_n algebra expressing the "topological OPE of local operators". We may interpret these algebraic structures as defining (slightly noncommutative) algebraic varieties and stacks, called moduli stacks of vacua, and relations among them. I will discuss some examples of these structures coming from the geometric Langlands program and their applications. Based on joint work with Andy Neitzke and Sam Gunningham. 

4 June 2018
Anna Erschler

Answering a question of Milnor, Grigorchuk constructed in the early eighties the
first examples of groups of intermediate growth, that is, finitely generated
groups with growth strictly between polynomial and exponential.
In  joint work with Laurent Bartholdi, we show that under a mild regularity assumption, any function greater than exp(n^a), where `a' is a solution of the equation
  2^(3-3/x)+ 2^(2-2/x)+2^(1-1/x)=2,
is a growth function of some group. These are the first examples of groups
of intermediate growth where the asymptotic of  the growth function is known.
Among applications of our results is the fact that any group of locally subexponential growth
can be embedded as a subgroup of some group of intermediate growth (some of these latter groups cannot be  subgroups in Grigorchuk groups).

In a recent work with Tianyi Zheng, we  provide  near optimal lower bounds
for Grigorchuk torsion groups, including the first Grigorchuk group. Our argument is by a construction of random walks with non-trivial Poisson boundary, defined by 
a measure with power law decay.

4 June 2018
Sarah Rasmussen

Recent tools make it possible to partition the space of rational Dehn 
surgery slopes for a knot (or in some cases a link) in a 3-manifold into 
domains over which the Heegaard Floer homology of the surgered manifolds 
behaves continuously as a function of slope. I will describe some 
techniques for determining the walls of discontinuity separating these 
domains, along with efforts to interpret some aspects of this structure 
in terms of the behaviour of co-oriented taut foliations. This talk 
draws on a combination of independent work, previous joint work with 
Jake Rasmussen, and work in progress with Rachel Roberts.

21 May 2018
Masato Mimura

The problem of "unbounded rank expanders" asks 
whether we can endow a system of generators with a sequence of 
special linear groups whose degrees tend to infinity over quotient rings 
of Z such that the resulting Cayley graphs form an expander family.
Kassabov answered this question in the affirmative. Furthermore, the 
completely satisfactory solution to this question was given by 
Ershov and Jaikin--Zapirain (Invent. Math., 2010);  they proved
Kazhdan's property (T) for elementary groups over non-commutative 
rings. (T) is equivalent to the fixed point property with respect to 
actions on Hilbert spaces by isometries.

We provide a new framework to "upgrade" relative fixed point 
properties for small subgroups to the fixed point property for the 
whole group. It is inspired by work of Shalom (ICM, 2006). Our 
main criterion is stated only in terms of intrinsic group structure 
(but *without* employing any form of bounded generation). 
This, in particular, supplies a simpler (but not quantitative) 
alternative proof of the aforementioned result of Ershov and 

If time permits, we will discuss other applications of our result.

14 May 2018

 I will discuss the quantum-field-theory origins of a classic result of Goresky-Kottwitz-MacPherson concerning the Koszul duality between the homology of G and the G-equivariant cohomology of a point. The physical narrative starts from an analysis of supersymmetric quantum mechanics with G symmetry, and leads naturally to a definition of the category of boundary conditions in two-dimensional topological gauge theory, which might be called the "G-equivariant Fukaya category of a point." This simple example illustrates a more general phenomenon (also appearing in C. Teleman's work in recent years) that pure gauge theory in d dimensions seems to control the structure of G-actions in (d-1)-dimensional QFT. This is part of joint work with C. Beem, D. Ben Zvi, M. Bullimore, and A. Neitzke.

14 May 2018
Georges Skandalis

My talk is based on joint work with Claire Debord (Univ. Auvergne).
We will explain why Lie groupoids are very naturally linked to Atiyah-Singer index theory.
In our approach -originating from ideas of Connes, various examples of Lie groupoids
- allow to generalize index problems,
- can be used to construct the index of pseudodifferential operators without using the pseudodifferential calculus,
- give rise to proofs of index theorems, 
- can be used to construct the pseudodifferential calculus.

7 May 2018
Benjamin J. Barrett

When studying a group, it is natural and often useful to try to cut it up 
onto simpler pieces. Sometimes this can be done in an entirely canonical 
way analogous to the JSJ decomposition of a 3-manifold, in which the 
collection of tori along which the manifold is cut is unique up to isotopy. 
It is a theorem of Brian Bowditch that if the group acts nicely on a metric 
space with a negative curvature property then a canonical decomposition can 
be read directly from the large-scale geometry of that space. In this talk 
we shall explore an algorithmic consequence of this relationship between 
the large-scale geometry of the group and is algebraic decomposition.

30 April 2018
Paolo Ghiggini

I will prove that the knot Floer homology group
HFK-hat(K, g-1) for a genus g fibered knot K is isomorphic to a
variant of the fixed points Floer homology of an area-preserving
representative of its monodromy. This is a joint work with Gilberto