January 25, 2017

Title: Hyperbolicity in Outer Space with Applications to Free Group Extensions

The “Outer space” of the rank n free group F_n is a contractible metric space on which the Outer automorphism group Out(F_n) acts properly discontinuously. It was introduced by Culler and Vogtmann in 1986 and is now an important tool for the topological and geometric study of Out(F_n).

This talk will focus on the geometry of Outer space and implications for free group extensions. The first aspects of hyperbolicity in Outer space were discovered by Algom-Kfir, who showed that axes of fully irreducible automorphisms are strongly contracting. In this talk I will present a characterization of this strongly contracting property in terms of the geodesic’s projection to the free factor complex. This characterization allows one to exploit the hyperbolicity of Outer space to study many geometric aspects of free group extensions. Results here include a flexible means of producing hyperbolic free group extensions, qualitative statements regarding their structure and quasiconvex subgroups, and quantitative results about their Cannon-Thurston maps. Mostly joint with Sam Taylor, and some joint with Ilya Kapovich and Sam Taylor.