Operator Monotone Functions of Several Variables

School of Mathematics Colloquium
Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 11:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 006
Washington University - St. Louis
Self-adjoint $n$-by-$n$ matrices have a natural partial ordering, namely $ A \leq B $ if the matrix $ B - A$ is positive semi-definite. In 1934 K. Loewner characterized functions that preserve this ordering; these functions are called $n$-matrix monotone. The condition depends on the dimension $n$, but if a function is $n$-matrix monotone for all $n$, then it must extend analytically to a function that maps the upper half-plane to itself. I will describe Loewner's results, and then discuss what happens if one wants to characterize functions $f$ of two (or more) variables that are matrix monotone in the following sense: If $ A = (A_1, A_2)$ and $B = (B_1,B_2)$ are pairs of commuting self-adjoint $n$-by-$n$ matrices, with $A_1 \leq B_1 $ and $A_2 \leq B_2$, then $f(A) \leq f (B)$. This talk is based on joint work with Jim Agler and Nicholas Young.