Separability in the Hydra Groups

4 June 2014
Kristen Pueschel
Riley and Dison's hydra groups are a family of group and subgroup pairs $(G_k, H_k)$ for which the subgroup $H_k$ has distortion like the $k$-th Ackermann function. One wants to know if finite quotients can distinguish elements that are not in $H_k$, as a positive answer would allow you to construct a hands-on family of finitely presented, residually finite groups with arbitrarily large Dehn functions. I'll explain why we get a negative answer.