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38
votes
13answers
5k views

What are some of the big open problems in 3-manifold theory?

From what I understand, the geometrization theorem and its proof helped to settle a lot of outstanding questions about the geometry and topology of 3-manifolds, but there still seems to be quite a lot ...
37
votes
3answers
2k views

Kirby calculus and local moves

Every orientable 3-manifold can be obtained from the 3-sphere by doing surgery along a framed link. Kirby's theorem says that the surgery along two framed links gives homeomorphic manifolds if and ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

Drawing of the eight Thurston geometries?

Do you know of a picture, drawing, or other concise visual representation of the eight three-dimensional Thurston geometries? I am imagining something akin to the standard picture (of a sphere, ...
27
votes
0answers
961 views

What is the three-dimensional hyperbolic volume of a four-manifold?

Every smooth closed orientable 4-manifold may be constructed via a handle decomposition. Before asking a couple of questions, I recall some well-known facts about handle-decompositions of 4-manifolds. ...
23
votes
0answers
1k views

Are there lots of integer homology three-spheres?

The problem of counting combinatorial three-spheres with $N$ simplices has implications for some partition functions in physics (see a paper by Benedetti and Ziegler for more background and ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is the volume conjecture important?

The volume conjecture, a formula relating hyperbolic volume of a knot complement with the semiclassical limit of a family of coloured Jones polynomials, is widely considered the biggest open problem ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Elevator pitch for the Virtual Fibering Theorem

There has been a great deal of excitement among topologists about the proof of the Virtual Haken Theorem, and in fact of the Virtual Fibering Theorem (for closed hyperbolic 3-manifolds, but I'm ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Level sets of Morse functions

Every compact two dimensional manifold admits a Morse function such that any its regular level set is at most two circles. I am interested in a generalization of that phenomenon. Does there exist a ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Can all n-manifolds be obtained by gluing finitely many blocks?

Fix a dimension $n\geqslant 2$. Let $S= \{M_1,\ldots, M_k\}$ be a finite set of smooth compact $n$-manifold with boundary. Let us say that a smooth closed $n$-manifold is generated by $S$ if it may ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

How expensive is knowledge? Knots, Links, 3 and 4-manifold algorithms. [closed]

With geometrization, Rubinstein's 3-sphere recognition algorithm and the Manning algorithm, 3-manifold theory has reached a certain maturity where many questions are "readily" answerable about ...
19
votes
2answers
256 views

Hyperbolic exceptional fillings of cusped hyperbolic 3-manifolds

Thurston's Hyperbolic Dehn Surgery Theorem says that all but finitely many fillings of a cusp of a hyperbolic 3-manifold result in hyperbolic manifolds that are deformations of the original manifold. ...
18
votes
0answers
434 views

The oriented homeomorphism problem for Haken 3-manifolds

Haken famously described an algorithm to solve the homeomorphism problem for the 3-manifolds that bear his name (fleshed out by many others, including Hemion and Matveev who fixed some gaps). But ...
17
votes
1answer
869 views

Diffeomorphisms vs homeomorphisms of 3-manifolds

For a smooth 3-manifold $M$, is the natural map from the space of diffeomorphisms of $M$ to the space of homeomorphisms of $M$, $${\sf Diff}(M) \longrightarrow {\sf Top}(M),$$ a weak homotopy ...
16
votes
3answers
454 views

Looking for “large knot” examples

This question is about knots and links in the 3-sphere. I want to find an example of a "large" knot or link with some special properties. I'm looking for some fairly specific examples, but I'm also ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

The Chern-Simons/Wess-Zumino-Witten correspondence

I have often seen a relationship being alluded to between these two theories but I am unable to find any literature which proves/derives/explains this relationship. I guess in the condensed matter ...
15
votes
3answers
675 views

3-manifolds with solvable fundamental group

Is there a nice reference for the classification of closed 3-manifolds with solvable (nilpotent, abelian, etc.) fundamental group, assuming the Geometrization Conjecture?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the 4x5 chessboard complex a link complement?

The 2x3 and 3x4 chessboard complexes (form a square grid of vertices and make a simplex for any set of vertices no two of which are in the same row or column) are a 6-cycle and a triangulated torus ...
15
votes
6answers
994 views

Tetrahedra with prescribed face angles

I am looking for an analogue for the following 2 dimensional fact: Given 3 angles $\alpha,\beta,\gamma\in (0;\pi)$ there is always a triangle with these prescribed angles. It is ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Proofs of Kirby's theorem

Each orientable 3-manifold can be obtained by doing surgery along a framed link in the 3-sphere. Kirby's theorem says that two framed links give homeomorphic manifolds if and only if they are obtained ...
15
votes
1answer
501 views

Can the SL_2 character variety of a three-manifold be nonreduced?

Let $M^3$ be a three-manifold and consider the representation variety and the character variety of $M$: $$Y=\operatorname{Hom}(\pi_1(M^3),\operatorname{SL}(2,\mathbb C))$$ ...
15
votes
2answers
416 views

Does a small-area sphere in a 3-manifold bound a small ball?

Let $M$ be a closed riemannian 3-manifold. I think that the following fact should be true and should have a relatively simple proof, but I cannot figure it out. For every $\varepsilon>0$ there ...
14
votes
3answers
581 views

Maximal euler characteristic of surfaces bounding two fixed curves

Let $\gamma_0$ and $\gamma_1$ be two simple closed curves in a closed surface $S$. What is the maximum Euler characteristic of a compact properly embedded surface $\Sigma \subset S\times [0,1]$ ...
13
votes
2answers
324 views

Heegaard splitting of covering hyperbolic manifold.

I am curious about how the Heegaard genus changes after a finite covering. Is there anyone constructing an closed hyperbolic 3-manifold $N$ such that the Heegaard genus of a finite covering of $N$ ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Detecting a cover of the figure-8 knot complement

I have a specific concrete example of a complete, finite volume, cusped hyperbolic 3-manifold $M$, and I am trying to determine whether or not $M$ is a cover of the figure-8 knot complement (call this ...
13
votes
2answers
458 views

The kernel of the map from the handlebody group to Outer automorphisms of a free group

Let $K$ be a compact oriented 3-dimensional handlebody of genus $g$. The group $H_g$ of isotopy classes of diffeomorphisms of $K$ is called the handlebody group. (It embeds as a subgroup of the ...
13
votes
1answer
757 views

$SL_2 R$ Casson invariant?

Casson's invariant is an invariant of a homology 3-sphere, obtained by ``counting" representations of the fundamental group into $SU(2)$. I was wondering if there is an analogous invariant counting ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

Diffeomorphism of 3-manifolds

Surgery theory aims to measure the difference between simple homotopy types and diffeomorphism types. In 3 dimensions, geometrization achieves something much more nuanced than that. Still, I wonder ...
12
votes
1answer
606 views

Where are $+$, $-$ and $\infty$ in bordered Heegaard-Floer theory?

Here goes my first MO-question. I've just read Lipshitz, Ozsváth and Thurston's recently updated "A tour of bordered Floer theory". To set the stage let me give two quotes from this paper. ...
11
votes
2answers
284 views

The homeomorphism problem for hyperbolic 3-manifolds and the virtual Haken theorem

If $N$ and $N'$ are two closed hyperbolic 3-manifolds, then one would like to have an algorithm which determines whether or not $N$ and $N'$ are homeomorphic. If $N$ and $N'$ are Haken, then such an ...
11
votes
1answer
360 views

Distinguishing 3-manifolds by homologies of covers

In a blog post on ldtopology, a recent arxiv posting of Lins-Lins is discussed. The main argument of that paper is difficult to algorithmically distinguish two 3-manifolds and to that end the authors ...
11
votes
1answer
197 views

Wanted: a nontrivial weakly inadmissible Heegaard diagram

This is a question asked by a student in my lecture. After drawing pictures for awhile, I thought it was a good one. I seek a nontrivial example of a pointed Heegaard diagram ...
10
votes
3answers
579 views

Irreducible homology 3-spheres that bound smooth contractible manifolds

Some examples of irreducible homology 3-spheres that bound smooth contractible 4-manifolds are listed in the comment to problem 4.2 in Kirby's problem list, and all of them happen to occur among the ...
10
votes
3answers
797 views

Flat SU(2) bundles over hyperbolic 3-manifolds

Can someone give me a non-trivial example of a flat SU(2)-connection over a compact orientable hyperbolic 3-manifold? The literature on such bundles over 3-manifolds is huge and my naive searches ...
10
votes
3answers
435 views

Torsion in cuspidal cohomology

Following Lemma 2.7 from Vogtmann's Rational Homology of Bianchi Groups, I want to define cuspidal cohomology as $$H_{\mathrm{cusp}}(M)=\frac{H_1(M)}{i_*(H_1(\partial M))}$$ where $i:\partial M\to M$ ...
10
votes
1answer
227 views

Construction of the Casson invariant

What is the easiest construction of the Casson invariant? The original construction using representation spaces (as found, for instance, in Akbulut-McCarthy) is very technical since you have to ...
10
votes
3answers
590 views

Best known Margulis constants?

A Margulis number for a hyperbolic $n$-manifold $M=\mathbb{H}^n/\Gamma$ is a number $\epsilon>0$ such that for each $x\in\mathbb{H}^n$ the group generated by the elements in $\Gamma$ which move $x$ ...
10
votes
2answers
400 views

Embedding the product of three circles in the 4-sphere.

Let $M$ be a smooth submanifold of the 4-sphere $S^4$. I'm going to demand that $M$ be diffeomorphic to $S^1 \times S^1 \times S^1$. By Jordan-Brouwer separation, $M$ separates the 4-sphere into ...
10
votes
2answers
451 views

Vector field on 3-sphere

Let $V$ be a vector field on $S^3$ such that its singularity points, namely the points at which the vector field vanishes, are only sinks or sources (i.e. the field is converging or diverging). Is ...
10
votes
1answer
285 views

Examples of 3-manifolds with RFRS fundamental group

I'm wondering if anyone knows how to construct hyperbolic 3-manifolds whose fundamental group is RFRS. Clearly the recent work of Agol, Wise, etc. says that such manifolds are abundant, and in ...
10
votes
2answers
817 views

Geometrization for 3-manifolds that contain two-sided projective planes

Often when people write about the geometrization conjecture they assume (for simplicity) that the manifold is orientable. I never seriously thought of non-orientable 3-manifolds, but while reading ...
10
votes
1answer
337 views

Did Milnor and Thurston write anything else about characteristic numbers for 3-manifolds?

In Characteristic numbers for 3-manifolds Milnor and Thurston define a characteristic number and this is cited in ch. 6 of Thurston's notes when discussing the Gromov approach to Mostow rigidity. The ...
10
votes
1answer
906 views

Question about Thurston's paper “A norm for the homology of 3-manifolds”

I have a question about the proof of Theorem 5 in Thurston's paper "A norm for the homology of 3-manifolds". It's the theorem that asserts that the fibered faces are, well, fibered. More precisely, ...
10
votes
0answers
185 views

Fox re-imbedding theorem in dimension four

Fox re-imbedding theorem states the following: A compact 3-manifold $M$ with boundary that embeds in the three-sphere $S^3$, can be re-imbedded in $S^3$ so that its complement is a union of ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a good notion of morphism between orbifolds?

Following Thurston, an orbifold is a topological space which looks locally like a finite quotient of $\mathbb R^n$ by a finite group of $O(n)$: this is expressed using charts as for differentiable ...
9
votes
5answers
819 views

Möbius and projective 3-manifolds

A projective 3-manifold is a smooth manifold that admits an atlas with values in the real projective 3-space such that all transition maps are restrictions of projective transformations. A Möbius ...
9
votes
4answers
602 views

Geometry of the space of circles in the Euclidean plane

We know that Mobius transformations, $z\to\frac{az+b}{cz+d}$, permutes circles and lines in the Euclidean plane, $(\mathbb{R}^2, dx^2 + dy^2 )$. It may even be possible to write an explicit formula ...
9
votes
2answers
596 views

How to see isometries of figure 8 knot complement

The figure 8 knot complement $M$ is the orientable double cover of the Gieseking manifold, which implies that $M$ has a fixed-point free involution. If we think of $M$ with its hyperbolic metric, this ...
9
votes
2answers
297 views

Heegaard genera of arithmetic 3-manifolds

UPDATE: Because I was hoping that state the question as concisely as possible, the original post did not include a precise definition of arithmetic 3-manifold only a reference to Maclachlan and ...
9
votes
3answers
652 views

Is the cut locus of a generic point in a hyperbolic manifold a generic polyhedron?

Let $p\in M$ be a point in a closed riemannian manifold $M$. Recall that the cut locus of $p$ is the subset of $M$ consisting of all points that are connected to $p$ by at least 2 distance-minimizing ...
9
votes
1answer
307 views

Ramified cover of 3-ball

I it true that any connected oriented 3-manifold with nonempty boundary can be obtained as a ramified cover of 3-ball with a ramification at a link? link = a 1-dimensional submanifold with possibly ...