Friday, March 14, 2014 - 10:30am
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
We say that a cover of surfaces S-> X has the Birman--Hilden property if the subgroup of the mapping class group of X consisting of mapping classes that have representatives that lift to S embeds in the mapping class group of S modulo the group of deck transformations. We identify one necessary condition and one sufficient condition for when a cover has this property. We give new explicit examples of irregular branched covers that do not satisfy the necessary condition as well as explicit covers that satisfy the sufficient condition. Our criteria are conditions on simple closed curves, and our proofs use the combinatorial topology of curves on surfaces.