Skein algebras and quantum topology

Research Horizons Seminar
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 12:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 006
Georgia Institute of Technology
Quantum topology is a collection of ideas and techniques for studying knots and manifolds using ideas coming from quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. We present a gentle introduction to this topic via Kauffman bracket skein algebras of surfaces, an algebraic object that relates "quantum information" about knots embedded in the surface to the representation theory of the fundamental group of the surface. In general, skein algebras are difficult to compute. We associate to every triangulation of the surface a simple algebra called a "quantum torus" into which the skein algebra embeds. In joint work with Thang Le, we make use of this embedding to give a simple proof of a difficult theorem.