Paradoxical decompositions and graph theory

Research Horizons Seminar
Friday, November 6, 2020 - 12:30pm for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Microsoft Teams
Anton Bernshteyn –
Skye Binegar


The Banach--Tarski paradox is one of the most counterintuitive facts in all of mathematics. It says that it is possible to divide the 3-dimensional unit ball into a finite number of pieces, move the pieces around (without changing their shape), and then put them back together to form two identical copies of the original ball. Many other, equally difficult to believe, equidecomposition statements are also true. For example, a ball of radius 1 can be split into finitely many pieces, which can then be rearranged to form a ball of radius 1000. It turns out that such statements are best understood through the lens of graph theory. I will explain this connection and discuss some recent breakthroughs it has led to.