Extensions of free groupsalgebraic, geometric, and algorithmic aspects

Supervised by:
  1. Enric Ventura Capell Director

Defence university: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)

Fecha de defensa: 15 September 2017

  1. Pascal Weil Chair
  2. Montserrat Casals Ruiz Secretary
  3. Pedro Ventura Alves da Silva Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 147106 DIALNET lock_openTDX editor


In this work we use geometric techniques in order to study certain natural extensions of free groups, and solve several algorithmic problems on them. To this end, we consider the family of free-abelian times free groups (Zm x Fn) as a seed towards further generalization in two main directions: semidirect products, and partially commuative groups (PC-groups). The four principal projects of this thesis are the following: Direct products of free-abelian and free groups We begin by studying the structure of the groups Zm x Fn , with special emphasis on their lattice of subgroups, and their endomorphisms (for which an explicit description is given, and both injectivity and surjectiveness are characterized); to then solve on them algorithmic problems involving both subgroups (the membership problem, the finite index problem, and the subgroup and coset intersection problems), and endomorphisms (the fixed points poblem, the Whitehead problems, and the twisted-conjugacy problem). Algorithmic recognition of infinite-cyclic extensions In the first part, we prove the algorithmic undecidability of several properties (finite generability, finite presentability, abelianity, finiteness, independence, triviality) of the base group of finitely presented cyclic extensions. In particular, we see that it is not possible to decide algorithmically if a finitely presented Z-extension admits a finitely generated base group. This last result allows us to demonstrate the undecidability of the Bieri-Neumann-Strebel (BNS) invariant. In the second part, we prove the equivalence between the isomorphism problem within the subclass of unique Z-extensions, and the semi-conjugacy problem for certain type of outer automorphisms, which we characterize algorithmically. Stallings automata for free-abelian by free groups After recreating in a purely algorithmic language the classic theory of Stallings associating an automaton to each subgroup of the free group, we extend this theory to semi-direct products of the form Zm ¿ Fn. Specifically, we associate to each subgroup of Zm ¿ Fn , an automaton ("enriched" with vectors in Zm), and we see that in the finitely generated case this construction is algorithmic and allows to solve the membership problem within this family of groups. The geometric description obtained also shows (even in the case of direct products) not only that the intersection of finitely generated subgroups can be infinitely generated, but that even when it is finitely generated, the rank of the intersection can not be bound in terms of the ranks of the intersected subgroups. This fact is relevant because it denies any possible extension of the celebrated - and recently proven - Hanna-Neumann conjecture in this direction. Intersection problems for Droms groups After characterizing those partially commutative groups satisfying the Howson property, we combine the algorithmic version of the theorem of the subgroups of Kurosh given by S.V. Ivanov, with the ideas coming from our work on Zm x Fn, to prove the solvability of the subgroup and coset intersection problems within the subfamily of Droms groups (that is, those PC- groups whose subgroups are always again partially commutative).