The Dehn Function of SL(n;Z)

Topic:The Dehn Function of SL(n;Z)
Speaker:Robert Young
Affiliation:Courant Institute/University of Toronto
Date:Friday, April 8
Time/Room:4:00pm - 5:00pm/S-101

The Dehn function is a group invariant which connects geometric and combinatorial group theory; it measures both the difficulty of the word problem and the area necessary to fill a closed curve in an associated space with a disc. The behavior of the Dehn function for high-rank lattices in high-rank symmetric spaces has long been an open question; one particularly interesting case is SL(n;Z). Thurston conjectured that SL(n;Z) has a quadratic Dehn function when n >= 4. This differs from the behavior for n = 2 (when the Dehn function is linear) and for n = 3 (when it is exponential). I have proved Thurston's conjecture when n >= 5, and in this talk, I will give an introduction to the Dehn function, discuss some of the background of the problem and give a sketch of the proof.