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46
votes
5answers
2k views

Do unit quaternions at vertices of a regular 4-simplex, one being 1, generate a free group?

Choose unit quaternions $q_0, q_1, q_2, q_3, q_4$ that form the vertices of a regular 4-simplex in the quaternions. Assume $q_0 = 1$. Let the other four generate a group via quaternion ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

Categorical proof subgroups of free groups are free?

This is a crossport of this question from MSE. Is there a categorical proof that subgroups of free groups are free? How about the result that subgroups of free abelian groups are free abelian? ...
20
votes
1answer
429 views

products of conjugates in free groups

While trying to carry out some technical arguments in free groups, I have encountered the following problem, to which I don't know the answer. Let $F$ be a free group and let $g,a_1,\ldots,a_n \in ...
17
votes
1answer
780 views

What are the relations between conjugates and commutators?

The following algebraic structure came up when I was thinking about invariants of coloured knots. The elements are all elements of a noncommutative free group $F$, and the operations are: $a^b= ...
15
votes
1answer
556 views

Explicit path in the unitary group of a $C^*$-algebra

For $G$ a discrete group, there is a canonical inclusion $g\mapsto u_g$ of $G$ into the unitary group of the reduced $C^*$-algebra $C^*_r(G)$. Denote by $[u_g]$ the class of $u_g$ in the (topological) ...
13
votes
0answers
284 views

Linear groups which don't contain products of free groups

Let $G \subset GL(n, \Bbb Z)$ be a f.g. linear group. The Tits alternative says that $G$ is either virtually solvable (i.e. has a solvable subgroup of finite index), or contains a free group $F_2$. ...
11
votes
1answer
332 views

Union of conjugates in free groups

Let $F$ be a (finitely generated) free group, $H \leq F$ of infinite index. Is it possible that $$ \bigcup_{g \in F} gHg^{-1} = F?$$
11
votes
1answer
265 views

A question on normal closures of elements in free groups.

Let $F$ be a free group of finite rank, and $p, b \in F$, where $b$ is a root element (i.e. not a proper power). I have a case where $p^{n_k} = V_{n_k}^{-1}b^{-1} V_{n_k} \cdot U_{n_k}^{-1}b ...
11
votes
0answers
134 views

Must nonunit in group algebra of free group generate proper two-sided ideal?

Let $F$ be a free group and $k$ be a field. If $x$ is an element of the group algebra $k[F]$ that is not a unit (equivalently, that is not a nonzero scalar multiple of an element of $F$), must the ...
10
votes
2answers
462 views

History of Tarski's problems on free groups

As is known, Tarski posed his questions about first-order theories of non-abelian free groups around 1945. However, the questions were not published in his papers or books. What is the original ...
10
votes
1answer
353 views

Number of trivializations of a trivial word in the free group

Let $M$ be the free monoid on $2n$ generators $x_1,X_1,...,x_n,X_n$ and consider the set $T$ of all those elements of $M$ which map to 1 of the free group on $x_1,...,x_n$ under the homomorphism $\pi$ ...
9
votes
3answers
537 views

First-order axiomatization of free groups

Is there a way to axiomatize [non-abelian] free groups in first-order logic using the language of groups (which contains the binary operation symbol $\cdot$, and the constant symbol $e$)? Is there ...
9
votes
3answers
471 views

Non-generating sets in a free group.

Let $F_n$ be the free group generated by $x_i$, for $1\leq i\leq n$. Let $a_i$ be some elements of $F_n$, also for $1\leq i\leq n$. Is there a nice way to tell when the list $\{a_i^{-1}x_ia_i\}$ does ...
9
votes
1answer
505 views

Commutators in free groups

Let $F_m$ be the free group with $m$ generators $S:=\{x_1,\dots, x_m\}$. I am interested in the following quantity $$ F(n):=\frac{|\{w\in [F_m,F_m]: \|w\|_S\leq n\}|}{|B_S(n)|} $$ where ...
9
votes
1answer
403 views

Is a free group a product of f.g subgroups of infinite index?

Let $F$ be a free group, and let $H,K \leq F$ be finitely generated subgroups of infinite index in $F$. Is it possible that for the set of products we have $HK = F$ ?
8
votes
1answer
330 views

Commutator length modulo finite index subgroups

We write $cl$ for the commutator length, i.e. the least number of commutators which multiply to a given element of a group. Given an element $g$ in the commutator subgroup of the free group $G=F_2$ ...
8
votes
2answers
300 views

Can a positive measure subset of a free group be nowhere dense?

Let $F$ be a finitely generated free group and let $S \subseteq F$ be a subset for which there is some $\epsilon > 0$ such that for any epimorphism to a finite group $\phi \colon F \to G$ we have ...
7
votes
2answers
416 views

Number of subgroups of a given index of a free group

Given $n,d\in \mathbb{Z}^+$, how many subgroups of index $d$ does the free group of rank $n$ have? In case $n=1$ the question is trivial, and in case $n=2, d=2$ there are 3 such subgroups. I think I ...
7
votes
1answer
386 views

“Concretely” writing down elements in a free profinite group

Let $r$ be a natural number. The elements of the free group $F_r$ on $r$ generators have a nice concrete description as "words" in the $r$ generators (and their inverses). I'd like to know if there is ...
7
votes
1answer
288 views

Products of subgroups of a free group

Let $F$ be a free group, and let $A,B \leq F$ be two subgroups such that $AB$ contains a nontrivial normal subgroup of $F$. Must either $A$ or $B$ contain a nontrivial normal subgroup of $F$? What if ...
7
votes
2answers
415 views

How to solve this one-variable equation in a free group?

Let $F_n$ be a free group, $u, v \in F_n$, where $[u,v] \neq 1 $. Trying to show that the following equation does not have a solution in $F_n$ : $$ [v,x] = [u,v] .$$ Any ideas are appreciated. I ...
7
votes
2answers
238 views

Is the free abstract group residually of rank d > 2?

Let $d \geq 2$ be an integer, and let $\mathcal{F}_d$ be the family of finite groups such that $G \in \mathcal{F}_d$ if and only if every subgroup of $G$ can be generated by at most $d$ elements. Is ...
6
votes
2answers
413 views

A metabelian quotient of a free group

I don't know much about free groups (excepted the very basics), and the following question may be trivial, although it isn't to me. Let $F$ be a free group with $n$ generators $x_1,\dots,x_n$. ...
6
votes
1answer
255 views

Do free profinite groups satisfy Howson's theorem?

Let $F$ be a free profinite group, and let $A,B \leq F$ be finitely generated closed subgroups. Must $A \cap B$ be finitely generated?
5
votes
1answer
190 views

Bases of surface groups

Let $\Gamma_g$ be a surface group of genus $g \geq 2$. A $2g$-tuple $(x_1,y_1, \dots,x_g,y_g) \in \Gamma_g^{2g}$ will be called a Surface Basis if we have the presentation $$\Gamma_g = \langle x_1, ...
5
votes
2answers
426 views

Which polynomials are Fricke polynomials ?

Let me recall the definition which seems the most standard of Fricke polynomials. Let $G$ be the free group with two generators $u,v$. It is not very hard to prove that there exists a unique ...
5
votes
0answers
126 views

Automorphism groups for free groups with action

Let $A$ be a (finitely generated) free group and $G$ be a (finitely generated) free $A$-group - that is, a group with an action of $A$, which is free in the category of groups with an $A$-action. ...
5
votes
0answers
146 views

Dynamics of virtual automorphisms of free group

The setup is that $F$ is a free finitely generated group, $H, H'$ are subgroups of index $2$, and $\tau:H\to H'$ is an isomorphism. Denote by $B_r$ the ball around $1$ of radius $r$ in $F$, in the ...
4
votes
2answers
301 views

Schreier's index formula

A finitely generated group G is said to satisfy Schreier's index formula if for every subgroup H of index k in G we have: d(H) - 1 = k(d(G) - 1). For example, a finitely generated free group satisfies ...
4
votes
2answers
211 views

A Karrass-Solitar theorem for surface groups

Let $\Gamma_g$ be a surface group of genus $g \geq 2$. That is, there is a presentation $$\Gamma_g = \langle x_1, y_1, \dots, x_g, y_g \vert \prod_{i = 1}^{g}[x_i,y_i] = 1\rangle$$ Is there a ...
4
votes
1answer
225 views

Algorithm for image of a free group homomorphism

Let $G$ and $H$ be finitely generated free groups, and let $f:G\to H$ be a homomorphism specified by giving the images of the generators of $G$. Is there an algorithm which takes such an $f$ and a ...
4
votes
3answers
309 views

Algebraically Independent Numbers and Affine Linear Maps

Suppose I have two lists $\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k$ and $\beta_1,\dots,\beta_k$ of real numbers such that all $2k$ numbers are mutually algebraically-independent over the rationals. For each $i \in ...
4
votes
2answers
268 views

Primitive subwords in a free group of rank 2

I am not sure yet about what I exactly need to prove, but I guess I can formulate a rough statement similar to the following: Suppose $w\in F_2$ is a primitive word whose length is big enough. Then ...
4
votes
1answer
183 views

Generators of Sylow subgroups

Is there a function $f : \mathbb{N} \rightarrow \mathbb{N}$ such that for each finite supersolvable group $G$, and a Sylow subgroup $S \leq G$ we have $d(S) \leq f(d(G))$? Here $d(H)$ denotes the ...
4
votes
1answer
286 views

Normal Subgroup Growth

Let $F$ be a free group on $d$ generators. Denote by $F_{k}$ the $k$-th term in $F$'s derived series. Put $G = F/F_k$. What is the normal subgroup growth of $G$? Explicitly, for each natural number ...
4
votes
1answer
231 views

Automorphism classes of the free group

As is well known, the conjugacy classes of the free group $F_2$ are parametrised by cyclically reduced words, up to cyclic permutation. In particular, it's easy to tell whether two elements of $F_2$ ...
4
votes
1answer
231 views

How to determine free generators of a closed subgroup of a free pro-$p$-group ?

If $F$ is a free discrete group, then any subgroup $H$ of $F$ is free: this is the well-known theorem of Nielsen-Schreier. Moreover, there is a well-known algorithm, the Nielsen-Schreier method that ...
4
votes
1answer
259 views

Generating infinite index subgroups of a free group

Let $F$ be nonabelian finitely generated free group, let $H \leq F$ be a finitely generated subgroup of infinite index and let $x,y \in F \setminus H$. Must there be some $a \in F$ such that $[F : ...
4
votes
0answers
87 views

A subgroup of corank 1 in a free group contains a primitive element?

Let $F$ be the free group on $\{x_i\}_{i=1}^\infty$, and let $H \leq F$ be a subgroup with $\langle H \cup \{x_1\} \rangle = F$. Must there be a free basis $B$ of $F$ for which $B \cap H \neq ...
4
votes
0answers
167 views

Primitive elements in a free group

Let $F$ be a free group of rank $\aleph_0$ and let $H$ be a subgroup for which there exists some $a \in F$ such that $\langle H \cup \{a\} \rangle = F$. Must there be some free basis $B$ for $F$ and a ...
4
votes
0answers
102 views

Is a finitely generated subgroup of a free profinite group virtually a retract?

Let $F$ be a nonabelian finitely generated free profinite group, and let $H \leq F$ be a finitely generated closed subgroup. Must there be some open subgroup $H \leq U \leq F$, and a closed normal ...
4
votes
0answers
148 views

Is there a nontrivial profinite word which is trivial in any group with at most d generators?

Let $F$ be a free profinite group of rank $\aleph_0$, and let $d \in \mathbb{N}$. Let $N_d \lhd_c F$ be the intersection of all open normal subgroups $L \lhd_o F$ for which $F/L$ can be generated by ...
4
votes
0answers
194 views

Schreier's formula and descending chains

For a group $G$ we denote by $d(G)$ the cardinality of a smallest set of generators. A finitely generated group $G$ is said to satisfy Schreier's formula if for every subgroup $H \subseteq G$ of ...
4
votes
0answers
216 views

Conjugacy classes of elements in free groups. One-variable equations.

First of all, wasn't sure what could be a good title for this question. If mods think of a better name, pls feel free to change it... Let $F$ be a (non-abelian) free group of finite rank, a vector ...
3
votes
1answer
103 views

Thickening graphs to get honest actions

Let $X$ be a finite graph. Its fundamental group is the free group $F_n$ on (say) $n$ generators. Let further an automorphism $\phi$ of $F_n$ be given. It is not true in general that this ...
3
votes
1answer
127 views

Schreier's formula and supersolvable groups

A finitely generated profinite group $G$ is said to satisfy Schreier's formula if for every open subgroup $L \leq_o G$ we have $d(L) = (d(G)-1)[G:L] + 1$. Here $d$ stands for the smallest cardinality ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

Co-rank of a group with $a^2b^2c^2=1$ (fundamental group of non-orientable surface)

What is the co-rank of a group $$G=\langle a_1,a_2,\dots,a_h\mid a_1^2a_2^2\dots a_h^2=1\rangle,$$ that is, finitely generated group with $h$ generators and one relation? By co-rank, I mean the ...
3
votes
2answers
227 views

(Quadratic) equation in free group?

I know almost nothing about this field, so my following question may be stupid. We know in a free group F, if $ax^{-1}a^{-1}x=1$, then $x=t^{k}, a=t^{l}$ for some t. Now consider a more general ...
3
votes
1answer
226 views

Bases of free groups

Let $F$ be a free group on a finite set $X$. Let $A \subseteq X$ be a subset of $X$ contained in some $H \leq F$, a subgroup of finite index in $F$. Must there be a basis (free generating set) for $H$ ...
3
votes
1answer
129 views

intersection growth of free profinite groups

Let $F_n$ be a free profinite group of finite rank $n$ and let $V_k$ denote the intersection of all open subgroups of $F_n$ of rank at most $k$ ($k \in \mathbb{N}$). My questions are: can I ...