Mathematics Department Colloquium: Largeness of 3-manifold group that resemble free groups”

Colloquium | February 1 | 4-5 p.m. | 60 Evans Hall

 Shelly Harvey, Rice University

 Department of Mathematics

A group is called large if it has a finite index subgroup which surjects onto a non-abelian free group. By work of Agol and Cooper-Long-Reid, most 3-manifold groups are large; in particular, the fundamental groups of hyperbolic 3-manifolds are large. In previous work, the first author gave examples of closed, hyperbolic 3-manifolds with arbitrarily large first homology rank but whose fundamental groups do not surject onto a non-abelian free group. We call a group very large if it surjects onto a non-abelian free group. In this paper, we consider the question of whether the groups of homology handlebodies - which are very close to being free - are very large. We show that the fundamental group of W. Thurston's tripus manifold, is not very large; it is known to be weakly parafree by Stallings' Theorem and large by the work of Cooper-Long-Reid since the tripus is a hyperbolic manifold with totally geodesic boundary. It is still unknown if a 3-manifold group that is weakly parafree of rank at least 3 must be very large. In fact, I know no example of a finitely presented group that is not very large and has H_2(G)=0 and has first homology rank at least 3. More generally we consider the co-rank of the fundamental group, also known as the cut number of the manifold. For each positive integer g we construct a homology handlebody Y_g of genus g whose group has co-rank equal to r(g), where r(g)=g/2 for g even and r(g)=(g+1)/2 for g odd. That is, these groups are weakly parafree of rank g and surject onto a free group of rank roughly half of g but no larger.

This work is joint with Eamonn Tweedy.

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