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Flat Lorentz 3-manifolds and hyperbolic surfaces


Speaker: William M. Goldman, University of Maryland
Location: 693 Kerr
Start time: Mon, Oct 28 2002, 4:10PM

Unlike Euclidean crystallographic groups, properly discontinuous groups of affine transformations need not be amenable. For example, a free group of rank two admits a properly discontinuous affine action on 3-space. Milnor imagined how one might construct such an action: deform a Schottky subgroup of O(2,1) inside the group of Lorentzian isometries of Minkowski space, although as he wrote in 1977, ``it seems difficult to decide whether the resulting group action is properly discontinuous.'' In 1983, Margulis, while trying to prove such groups don't exist, constructed the first examples. In his 1990 doctoral thesis, Drumm constructed explicit geometric examples from fundamental polyhedra called ``crooked planes.'' These structures seem to be intimately related to hyperbolic Riemann surfaces and their deformation theory. In this talk I will discuss the geometry and topology of these spaces, the dynamics of their geodesic flows, and their moduli spaces.