Morse 2-functions on 4-manifolds

Geometry Topology Seminar
Monday, October 3, 2011 - 2:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 005
David Gay – UGA
John Etnyre
Rob Kirby and I have been thinking for a while now about stable maps to 2-manifolds, which we call "Morse 2-functions", to stress the analogy with standard Morse theory, which studies stable maps to 1-manifolds. In this talk I will focus on the extent to which we can extend that analogy to the way in which handle decompositions combinatorialize Morse functions, especially in low dimensions. By drawing the images of attaching maps and some extra data, one describes the total space of a Morse function and the Morse function, up to diffeomorphism. I will discuss how much of that works in the context of Morse 2-functions. This is important because Rob Kirby and I have spent most of our time thinking about stable homotopies between Morse 2-functions, which should be thought of as giving "moves" between Morse 2-functions, but to honestly call them "moves" we need to make sure we have a reasonable way to combinatorialize Morse 2-functions to begin with.