Archive for June 7th, 2011

A remark on a mini-course by Kleiner in Sullivan’s 70th birthday

June 7, 2011

I spent the last week on Long Island for Dennis Sullivan’s birthday conference. The conference is hosted in the brand new Simons center where great food is served everyday in the cafe (I think life-wise it’s a wonderful choice for doing a post-doc).

Anyways, aside from getting to know this super-cool person named Dennis, the talks there were interesting~ There are many things I found so exciting and can’t help to not say a few words about, however due to my laziness, I can only select one item to give a little stupid remark on:

So Bruce Kleiner gave a 3-lecture mini-course on boundaries of Gromov hyperbolic spaces (see this related post on a piece of his pervious work in the subject)

Cannon’s conjecture: Any Gromov hyperbolic group with \partial_\infty G \approx \mathbb{S}^2 acts discretely and cocompactly by isometries on \mathbb{H}^3.

As we all know, in the theory of Gromov hyperbolic spaces, we have the basic theorem that says if a groups acts on a space discretely and cocompactly by isometries, then the group (equipped with any word metric on its Cayley graph) is quasi-isometric to the space it acts on.

Since I borrowed professor Sullivan as an excuse for writing this post, let’s also state a partial converse of this theorem (which is more in the line of Cannon’s conjecture):

Theorem: (Sullivan, Gromov, Cannon-Swenson)
For G finitely generated, if G is quasi-isometric to \mathbb{H}^n for some n \geq 3, then G acts on \mathbb{H}^n discretely cocompactly by isometries.

This essentially says that due to the strong symmetries and hyperbolicity of \mathbb{H}^n, in this case quasi-isometry is enough to guarantee an action. (Such thing is of course not true in general, for example any finite group is quasi-isometric to any compact metric space, there’s no way such action exists.) In some sense being quasi-isometric is a much stronger condition once the spaces has large growth at infinity.

In light of the above two theorems we know that Cannon’s conjecture is equivalent to saying that any hyperbolic group with boundary \mathbb{S}^2 is quasi-isometric to \mathbb{H}^3.

At first glance this seems striking since knowing only the topology of the boundary and the fact that it’s hyperbolic, we need to conclude what the whole group looks like geometrically. However, the pervious post on one dimensional boundaries perhaps gives us some hint on the boundary can’t be anything we want. In fact it’s rather rigid due to the large symmetries of our hyperbolic group structure.

Having Cannon’s conjecture as a Holy Grail, they developed tools that give raise to some very elegant and inspring proofs of the conjecture in various special cases. For example:

Definition: A metric space M, is said to be Alfors \alpha-regular where \alpha is its Hausdorff dimension, if there exists constant C s.t. for any ball B(p, R) with R \leq \mbox{Diam}(M), we have:

C^{-1}R^\alpha \leq \mu(B(p,R)) \leq C R^\alpha

This is saying it’s of Hausdorff dimension \alpha in a very strong sense. (i.e. the Hausdorff \alpha measure behaves exactly like the regular Eculidean measure everywhere and in all scales).

For two disjoint continua C_1, C_2 in M, let \Gamma(C_1, C_2) denote the set of rectifiable curves connecting C_1 to C_2. For any density function \rho: M \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^+, we define the \rho-distance between C_1, C_2 to be \displaystyle \mbox{dist}_\rho(C_1, C_2) = \inf_{\gamma \in \Gamma(C_1, C_2)} \int_\gamma \rho.

Definition: The \alpha-modulus between C_1, C_2 is

\mbox{Mod}_\alpha(C_1, C_2) = \inf \{ \int_M \rho^\alpha \ | \ \mbox{dist}_\rho(C_1, C_2) \geq 1 \},

OK…I know this is a lot of seemingly random definitions to digest, let’s pause a little bit: Given two continua in our favorite \mathbb{R}^n, new we are of course Hausdorff dimension n, what’s the n-modulus between them?

This is equivalent to asking for a density function for scaling the metric so that the total n-dimensional volume of \mathbb{R}^n is as small as possible but yet the length of any curve connecting C_1, \ C_2 is larger than 1.

So intuitively we want to put large density between the sets whenever they are close together. Since we are integrating the n-th power for volume (suppose n>1, since our set is path connected it’s dimension is at least 1), we would want the density as ‘spread out’ as possible while keeping the arc-length property. Hence one observation is this modulus depends on the pair of closest points and the diameter of the sets.

The relative distance between C_1, C_2 is \displaystyle \Delta (C_1, C_2) = \frac{\inf \{ d(p_1, p_2) \ | \ p_1 \in C_1, \ p_2 \in C_2 \} }{ \min \{ \mbox{Diam}(C_1), \mbox{Diam}(C_2) \} }

We say M is \alpha-Loewner if the \alpha modulus between any two continua is controlled above and below by their relative distance, i.e. there exists increasing functions \phi, \psi: [0, \infty) \rightarrow [0, \infty) s.t. for all C_1, C_2,

\phi(\Delta(C_1, C_2)) \leq \mbox{Mod}_\alpha(C_1, C_2) \leq \psi(\Delta(C_1, C_2))

Those spaces are, in some sense, regular with respect to it’s metric and measure.

Theorem: If \partial_\infty G is Alfors 2-regular and 2-Loewner, homeomorphic to \mathbb{S}^2, then G acts discrete cocompactly on \mathbb{H}^3 by isometries.

Most of the material appeared in the talk can be found in their paper.

There are many other talks I found very interesting, especially that of Kenneth Bromberg, Mario Bonk and Peter Jones. Unfortunately I had to miss Curt McMullen, Yair Minski and Shishikura…

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