The Burau representation and shapes of polyhedra by Ethan Dlugie

Geometry Topology Seminar
Monday, October 30, 2023 - 2:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Roberta Shapiro

The Burau representation is a kind of homological representation of braid groups that has been around for around a century. It remains mysterious in many ways and is of particular interest because of its relation to quantum invariants of knots and links such as the Jones polynomial. In recent work, I came across a relationship between this representation and a moduli space of Euclidean cone metrics on spheres (think e.g. convex polyhedra) first examined by Thurston. After introducing the relevant definitions, I'll explain a bit about this connection and how I used the geometric structure on this moduli space to exactly identify the kernel of the Burau representation after evaluating its formal parameter at complex roots of unity. There will be many pictures!