The hyperbolic meaning of the Milnor–Wood inequality

We introduce a notion of the twist of an isometry of the hyperbolic plane. This twist function is defined on the universal covering group of orientation-preserving isometries of the hyperbolic plane, at each point in the plane. We relate this function to a function defined by Milnor and generalised by Wood. We deduce various properties of the twist function, and use it to give new proofs of several well-known results, including the Milnor–Wood inequality, using purely hyperbolic-geometric methods. Our methods express inequalities in Milnor’s function as equalities, with the deficiency from equality given by an area in the hyperbolic plane. We find that the twist of certain products found in surface group presentations is equal to the area of certain hyperbolic polygons arising as their fundamental domains.

Hyperbolic cone-manifold structures with prescribed holonomy II: higher genus

We consider the relationship between hyperbolic cone-manifold structures on surfaces, and algebraic representations of the fundamental group into a group of isometries. A hyperbolic cone-manifold structure on a surface, with all interior cone angles being integer multiples of [latex]2\pi[/latex], determines a holonomy representation of the fundamental group. We ask, conversely, when a representation of the fundamental group is the holonomy of a hyperbolic cone-manifold structure. In this paper we build upon previous work with punctured tori to prove results for higher genus surfaces. Our techniques construct fundamental domains for hyperbolic cone-manifold structures, from the geometry of a representation. Central to these techniques are the Euler class of a representation, the group [latex]\widetilde{PSL_2\mathbb{R}}[/latex], the twist of hyperbolic isometries, and character varieties. We consider the action of the outer automorphism and related groups on the character variety, which is measure-preserving with respect to a natural measure derived from its symplectic structure, and ergodic in certain regions. Under various hypotheses, we almost surely or surely obtain a hyperbolic cone-manifold structure with prescribed holonomy.

Sutured Floer Homology, Sutured TQFT and Non-Commutative QFT

We define a “sutured topological quantum field theory”, motivated by the study of sutured Floer homology of product 3-manifolds, and contact elements. We study a rich algebraic structure of suture elements in sutured TQFT, showing that it corresponds to contact elements in sutured Floer homology. We use this approach to make computations of contact elements in sutured Floer homology over Z of sutured manifolds [latex](D^2 \times S^1, F \times S^1)[/latex] where F is finite. This generalises previous results of the author over Z_2 coefficients. Our approach elaborates upon the quantum field theoretic aspects of sutured Floer homology, building a non-commutative Fock space, together with a bilinear form deriving from a certain combinatorial partial order; we show that the sutured TQFT of discs is isomorphic to this Fock space.

Hyperbolic cone-manifold structures with prescribed holonomy I: punctured tori

We consider the relationship between hyperbolic cone-manifold structures on surfaces, and algebraic representations of the fundamental group into a group of isometries. A hyperbolic cone-manifold structure on a surface, with all interior cone angles being integer multiples of [latex]2\pi[/latex], determines a holonomy representation of the fundamental group. We ask, conversely, when a representation of the fundamental group is the holonomy of a hyperbolic cone-manifold structure. In this paper we prove results for the punctured torus; in the sequel, for higher genus surfaces. We show that a representation of the fundamental group of a punctured torus is a holonomy representation of a hyperbolic cone-manifold structure with no interior cone points and a single corner point if and only if it is not virtually abelian. We construct a pentagonal fundamental domain for hyperbolic structures, from the geometry of a representation. Our techniques involve the universal covering group [latex]\widetilde{PSL_2\mathbb{R}}[/latex] of the group of orientation-preserving isometries of [latex]\mathbb{H}^2[/latex] and Markoff moves arising from the action of the mapping class group on the character variety.