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The Dehn complex: scissors congruence, K-theory, and regulators

Inna Zakharevich (Cornell)

Location:  Join Zoom Meeting,
Date & time: Wednesday, 28 October 2020 at 3:30PM - 4:30PM


Hilbert's third problem asks: do there exist two polyhedra with the same volume which are not scissors congruent? In other words, if \(P\) and \(Q\) are polyhedra with the same volume, is it always possible to write \(P = bigcup_{i=1}^n P_i\) and \(Q = bigcup_{i=1}^nQ_i\) such that the \(P\)'s and \(Q\)'s intersect only on the boundaries and such that \(P_i cong Q_i\)? In 1901 Dehn answered this question in the negative by constructing a second scissors congruence invariant now called the "Dehn invariant," and showing that a cube and a regular tetrahedron never have equal Dehn invariants, regardless of their volumes. We can then restate Hilbert's third problem: do the volume and Dehn invariant separate the scissors congruence classes? In 1965 Sydler showed that the answer is yes; in 1968 Jessen showed that this result extends to dimension 4, and in 1982 Dupont and Sah constructed analogs of such results in spherical and hyperbolic geometries. However, the problem remains open past dimension 4. By iterating Dehn invariants Goncharov constructed a chain complex, and conjectured that the homology of this chain complex is related to certain graded portions of the algebraic K-theory of the complex numbers, with the volume appearing as a regulator. In joint work with Jonathan Campbell, we have constructed a new analysis of this chain complex which illuminates the connection between the Dehn complex and algebraic K-theory, and which opens new routes for extending Dehn's results to higher dimensions. In this talk we will discuss this construction and its connections to both algebraic and Hermitian K-theory, and discuss the new avenues of attack that this presents for the generalized Hilbert's third problem.

For access to the colloquium please email Alex Kontorovich


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