Classifying spaces of low-dimensional bordism categories

31 May 2021
Jan Steinebrunner

The d-dimensional bordism category Cob_d has as objects closed (d-1)-manifolds and as morphisms diffeomorphism classes of d-dimensional bordisms. For d=1 and d=2 this category is well understood because we have a complete list of all 1 or 2-manifolds with boundary. In this talk I will argue that the categories Cob_1 and Cob_2 nevertheless carry a lot of interesting structure. 

I will show that the classifying spaces B(Cob_1) and B(Cob_2) contain interesting moduli spaces coming from the combinatorics of how 1 or 2 manifolds can be glued along their boundary. In particular, I will introduce the notion of a "factorisation category" and explain how it relates to Connes' cyclic category for d=1 and to the moduli space of tropical curves for d=2. If time permits, I will sketch how this relates to the curve complex and moduli spaces of complex curves.

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