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Leonidas Alaoglu Memorial Lecture
in Mathematics
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

4:15 p.m.  151 Sloan

Karen Vogtmann
Professor of Mathematics
Cornell University

Geometries for automorphism groups of free groups

Abstract: Finitely generated free groups are the simplest, most basic class of infinite groups, but their automorphism groups are remarkably complex, and many natural questions about their structure remain unanswered.  There are a variety of beautiful geometric objects on which these groups act,  but there are also rigidity phenomena which restrict the type of objects with any sort of non-trivial action by these groups.   I will describe some of the spaces with nice actions and some with no actions, then show how this geometric information can be leveraged into algebraic information about  automorphism groups of free groups.

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Karen Vogtmann is a professor of mathematics at Cornell University, working in geometric group theory. Her main focus in recent years has been studying the group of outer automorphisms of a free group, via its action on a geometric object called Outer Space. This space has surprising connections with other areas of mathematics, from infinite-dimensional Lie algebras  to phylogenetic trees. Vogtmann has held research positions at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at Berkeley, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifique in France.  She is currently a trustee of the American Mathematical Society, and previously served as Vice President of the Society. She has served on scientific advisory boards of the American Institute of Mathematics and  the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the arXiv advisory board, as well as many other national and international committees. In 2006 she gave an invited address at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid, and in 2007 gave the Emmy Noether Lecture at the annual meeting of the AMS in New Orleans.

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You are invited to attend a dinner following the Leonidas Alaoglu Memorial Lectures in Mathematics at The Athenaeum on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Host bar   5:45 p.m.
Dinner  6:30 p.m.

Reservations Required


Hearts of Romaine Classic Caesar
Mushroom and Truffle Chicken Breast
Berries Athenaeum
Please indicate if you require a vegetarian or kosher meal

For reservations, please contact Stacey V. Croomes at 626-395-4336 or send payment by May 2, 2008 made out to Caltech for $35.00 per person to:

Stacey V. Croomes

Caltech 253-37

Pasadena, CA  91125

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The Leonidas Alaoglu Memorial Lecture was established by friends and family of the late Leonidas Alaoglu in recognition of his great talents, distinguished contributions to mathematics, and long friendship with Caltech. The Institute is privileged to honor his memory with a lecture each year by an outstanding mathematician.

 Last update: Monday, April 28, 2008 | © California Institute of Technology | Questions?  scroomes @