Friday, December 6, 2019 - 16:00 for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)

Location

Skiles 006

Speaker

Dale Rolfsen – UBC

A group is said to be torsion-free if it has no elements of finite order. An example is the group, under composition, of self-homeomorphisms (continuous maps with continuous inverses) of the interval I = [0, 1] fixed on the boundary {0, 1}. In fact this group has the stronger property of being left-orderable, meaning that the elements of the group can be ordered in a way that is nvariant under left-multiplication. If one restricts to piecewise-linear (PL) homeomorphisms, there exists a two-sided (bi-)ordering, an even stronger property of groups.

I will discuss joint work with Danny Calegari concerning groups of homeomorphisms of the cube [0, 1]^n fixed on the boundary. In the PL category, this group is left-orderable, but not bi-orderable, for all n>1. Also I will report on recent work of James Hyde showing that left-orderability fails for n>1 in the topological category.