- Series
- Geometry Topology Seminar
- Time
- Monday, October 25, 2010 - 2:00pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
- Location
- Skiles 269
- Speaker
- Joan Birman – Barnard College-Columbia University – jb@math.columbia.edu – http://www.math.columbia.edu/~jb/
- Organizer
- Dan Margalit

Pseudo-Anosov mapping classes on surfaces have a rich structure, uncovered by William Thurston in the 1980's. We will discuss the 1995 Bestvina-Handel algorithmic proof of Thurston's theorem, and in particular the "transition matrix" T that their algorithm computes. We study the Bestvina-Handel proof carefully, and show that the dilatation is the largest real root of a particular polynomial divisor P(x) of the characteristic polynomial C(x) = | xI-T |. While C(x) is in general not an invariant of the mapping class, we prove that P(x) is. The polynomial P(x) contains the minimum polynomial M(x) of the dilatation as a divisor, however it does not in general coincide with M(x).In this talk we will review the background and describe the mathematics that underlies the new invariant. This represents joint work with Peter Brinkmann and Keiko Kawamuro.