**64**

votes

**2**answers

5k views

### Norms of Commutators

If an $n$ by $n$ complex matrix $A$ has trace zero, then it is a commutator, which means that there are $n$ by $n$ matrices $B$ and $C$ so that $A= BC-CB$. What is the order of the best constant $\...

**46**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### vector balancing problem

I believe the solution posted to the arXiv on June 17 by Marcus, Spielman, and Srivastava is correct.
This problem may be hard, so I don't expect an off-the-cuff solution. But can anyone suggest ...

**35**

votes

**8**answers

2k views

### How to quantify noncommutativity?

If I have two operators or finite-dimensional matrices $A$ and $B$, how can I quantify the amount to which they commute or don't commute? (I would consider it a big plus if it is computable easily for ...

**35**

votes

**3**answers

4k views

### Quantum mechanics formalism and C*-algebras

Many authors (e.g Landsman, Gleason) have stated that in quantum mechanics, the observables of a system can be taken to be the self-adjoint elements of an appropriate C*-algebra. However, many ...

**35**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Moving one family of commuting self-adjoint operators to another without losing commutativity on the way

This is actually not a question of mine, so I'll be short on motivation and say nothing beyond that if this were true, a few fancy harmonic analysis techniques that a colleague of mine used in proving ...

**34**

votes

**7**answers

3k views

### Why should algebraic objects have naturally associated topological spaces? (Formerly: What is a topological space?)

In this question, Harry Gindi states:
The fact that a commutative ring has a natural topological space associated with it is a really interesting coincidence.
Moreover, in the answers, Pete L. ...

**33**

votes

**3**answers

3k views

### What is a foliation and why should I care?

The title says everything but while it is a little bit provocative let me elaborate a bit about my question. First time when I met the foliation it was just an isolated example in the differential ...

**32**

votes

**2**answers

4k views

### tr(ab) = tr(ba)?

It is well known that given two Hilbert-Schmidt operators $a$ and $b$ on a Hilbert space $H$, their product is trace class and $tr(ab)=tr(ba)$. A similar result holds for $a$ bounded and $b$ trace ...

**30**

votes

**1**answer

3k views

### Are the norms of graphs dense in any interval?

It is known that there is a gap between 2 and the next largest norm of a graph.
Is there an interval of the real line in which norms of graphs are dense?

**29**

votes

**6**answers

5k views

### A remark of Connes

In an interview (at http://www.alainconnes.org/docs/Inteng.pdf) Connes remarks that
I had been working on non-standard analysis, but after a while I had found a catch in the theory.... The point ...

**29**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### How to define a differential form on a fractal?

It is well known how to construct a Laplacian on a fractal using the Dirichlet forms (see e.g.
the survey article by Strichartz). This implies, in particular, that a fractal can be "heated", i.e. one ...

**28**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Reference for the Gelfand-Neumark theorem for commutative von Neumann algebras

The Gelfand-Neumark theorem for commutative von Neumann algebras states that the following three categories are equivalent:
(1) The opposite category of the category of commutative von Neumann ...

**27**

votes

**0**answers

1k views

### Subalgebras of von Neumann algebras

In the late 70s, Cuntz and Behncke had a paper
H. Behncke and J. Cuntz, Local Completeness of Operator Algebras, Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jan., 1977), pp. 95-...

**24**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Can we recover a von Neumann algebra from its predual?

By definition, a von Neumann algebra is a C*‑algebra A
that admits a predual, i.e., a Banach space Z such that
Z* is isomorphic to the underlying Banach space of A.
(We require that isomorphisms in ...

**24**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Szőkefalvi-Nagy's unitarizability theorem in the Calkin algebra?

Here's a research problem, which I think interesting.
Suppose that $t$ is an invertible element in the Calkin algebra $\mathcal{Q} = \mathcal{B}(\ell_2)/\mathcal{K}(\ell_2)$ which satisfies $\sup_{n \...

**24**

votes

**0**answers

724 views

### When are two C*-algebras isomorphic as Banach spaces?

We may consider each $C^*$-algebra as a Banach space (by forgetting the multiplication and adjoint). I wonder how drastic this step is, i.e., which properties of the $C^*$-algebra are reflected by its ...

**24**

votes

**0**answers

1k views

### Finite-dimensional subalgebras of $C^\star$-algebras

Let $A$ be a unital $C^\star$-algebra and let $a_1,\dots,a_n$ be a finite list of normal elements in $A$ which (together with their adjoints) generate a norm-dense $\star$-subalgebra $B \subset A$. ...

**23**

votes

**8**answers

4k views

### Simplest examples of rings that are not isomorphic to their opposites

What are the simplest examples of
rings that are not isomorphic to their
opposite rings? Is there a science to constructing them?
The only simple example known to me:
In Jacobson's Basic Algebra (...

**23**

votes

**1**answer

598 views

### Can nuclearity be determined by tensoring with a single C*-algebra?

A C*-algebra is nuclear if the algebraic tensor product $A\odot B$ ($B$ is any other C*-algebra) admits a unique C*-norm. This definition requires testing the condition for nuclearity with `all' C*-...

**22**

votes

**5**answers

1k views

### Why are subfactors interesting?

I get asked this question a lot, and am not very happy with any of the answers.
Vaguely I think of subfactor theory as a generalization of representation theory of groups. That is, if you have a ...

**21**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### What is about nonassociative geometry?

At the end of a conference given by Alain Connes in 2000 (here is a video in French), a member of the audience asked a question. I transcribed and translated it for you below:
Audience: You showed ...

**21**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Finite subgroups of unitary groups

Let $n$ be an integer. Camille Jordan showed that there exists some $m \in {\mathbb N}$ (depending on $n$), such that for any pair of $n \times n$-unitaries $u,v \in U(n)$ which generate a finite ...

**21**

votes

**1**answer

575 views

### “Minimal” group C*-algebra?

Let $\Gamma$ be a discrete group (though this could be asked for general locally compact groups) and consider the Banach $*$-algebra $\ell^1(\Gamma)$. We have two natural $C^*$-algebra completions: ...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Does left-invertible imply invertible in full group C*-algebras (discrete case)?

The following question/problem has been bugging me on and off for some time now: so I thought it might be worth broaching here on MO, as a case of "ask the experts".
Let $G$ be a discrete group. ...

**20**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### What's a noncommutative set?

This issue is for logicians and operator algebraists (but also for anyone who is interested).
Let's start by short reminders on von Neumann algebra (for more details, see [J], [T], [W]):
Let $H$ ...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

976 views

### Separating pure states on the $2\times 2$ matrix algebra

I have an idea for a possible counterexample to the noncommutative Stone-Weierstrass problem. A good answer to the following question would really help.
Let $\mathcal{A}$ be the C*-algebra of $2\...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

679 views

### Nonseparable disintegration theory: references

I mean a theorem of the following kind. Let $A$ be a C*-algebra, and let $\pi: A\to B(H)$ be its representation. Then there exist a set $P$ with a positive measure $\mu$, a field of Hilbert spaces ...

**19**

votes

**2**answers

5k views

### Is the Invariant Subspace Problem interesting?

There's an amusing comment in Peter Lax's Functional Analysis book. After a brief description of the Invariant Subspace Problem, he says (paraphrasing) "...this question is still open. It is also an ...

**19**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Reference request for translating from Top to C*-alg

Some recent questions on MO (for example, Do subalgebras of C(X) admit a description in terms of the compact Hausdorff space X?) have been about Gelfand duality-- namely, that the categories of ...

**19**

votes

**2**answers

934 views

### Commutators in the reduced C*-algebra of the free group

Is it known whether any element of trace 0 in the reduced $C^*$-algebra of a non-abelian free group, is a limit of sums of (additive) commutators?

**19**

votes

**1**answer

575 views

### On complemented von Neumann algebras

Edit: according to Narutaka Ozawa, question 3) is still open in the type $\mathrm{II}_1$ case. In other terms, it is not known whether every topologically complemented type $\mathrm{II}_1$ factor in $...

**19**

votes

**0**answers

551 views

### The Mackey Topology on a Von Neumann Algebra

Every von Neumann algebra $\mathcal M$ is the dual of a unique Banach space $\mathcal M_* $. The Mackey topology on $\mathcal M$ is the topology of uniform convergence on weakly compact subsets of $\...

**18**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Noncommutative smooth manifolds

Connes defined a noncommutative analog of a closed oriented Riemannian spin^c manifold using spectral triples.
Using his definition it is unclear how to separate the smooth structure from the metric.
...

**18**

votes

**2**answers

453 views

### Which groups are the unitary group of a $C^*$-algebra

Which groups are the unitary group of a $C^*$-algebra?
Does anyone know anything in this direction?

**17**

votes

**8**answers

2k views

### Bimodules in geometry

Grothendieck's approach to algebraic geometry in particular tells us to treat all rings as rings of functions
on some sort of space. This can also be applied outside of scheme theory (e.g., Gelfand-...

**17**

votes

**1**answer

402 views

### A possible extension of a determinant inequality

It is well known that if $A, B$ are positive semidefinite matrices, then $$\det (A+B)\ge \det A+\det B.$$
I am considering a possible extension of this result. Let $\mathbb{M}_m(\mathbb{M}_n)$ ...

**17**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Commuting unitaries

Is the following true:
For every unit vectors $x_1,..., x_n$, $y_1,..., y_n$ in $\mathbb{C}^k$
there exist a Hilbert space $H$, unitary operators $U_1,...,U_n$ and $V_1,...,V_n$ in $B(H)$ and unit ...

**17**

votes

**0**answers

325 views

### Do quotients of amenable groups C*-algebras satisfy the UCT?

Let G be a discrete amenable group.
General Question: Let $J$ be an ideal of $C^*(G)$, the group C*-algebra of $G.$ Does $C^*(G)/J$ satisfy the universal
coefficient theorem (UCT)?
I am mainly ...

**17**

votes

**0**answers

537 views

### Noncommutative arithmetic mean geometric mean inequality and symmetric polynomials

While analyzing convergence speed of stochastic-gradient methods for convex optimization problems, Recht et al (2011) posed a tantalizing conjecture. It seems quite tricky, so after having struggled a ...

**16**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Realizing universal C*-algebras as concrete C*-algebras

How do I in general realize a universal C*-algebra generated by some generators and relation as concrete C*-algebras? For example, I know that universal C*-algebra generated by a single unitary is $C(\...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### What are the applications of operator algebras to other areas?

Question: What are the applications of operator algebras to other areas?
More precisely, I would like to know the results in mathematical areas outside of operator algebras which were proved by ...

**16**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Is the group von Neumann algebra construction functorial?

Let $G$ be a group and $CG$ the complex group algebra over the field $C$ of complex number. The group von Neumann algebra $NG$ is the completion of $CG$ wrt weak operator norm in $B(l^2(G))$, the set ...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

489 views

### C$^*$-algebras isomorphic after tensoring with $M_n(\mathbb C)$

In 1977, Joan Plastiras gave a striking example of two non $*$-isomorphic C$^*$-algebras $\mathcal A$ and $\mathcal B$ such that $$\mathcal A \otimes M_2(\mathbb C) \simeq \mathcal B\otimes M_2(\...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

836 views

### Banach spaces with few linear operators ?

Sometimes, dealing with the concrete and familiar Banach spaces of everyday life in maths, I happen nevertheless to ask myself about the generality of certain constructions. But, as I try to abstract ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

536 views

### Operator Valued Kadison--Singer Problem

The Paving Conjecture, which is equivalent to the famous Kadison--Singer Problem, was spectacularly settled in the affirmative by Marcus--Spielman--Srivastava (arxiv:1306.3969). Let $E$ denote the ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

630 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) ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

899 views

### Convolution algebras for double groupoids?

There is a lot of work of course on convolution algebras of measured groupoids, and this gives "Noncommutative geometry". However there is a lot of interest in algebraically structured groupoids, for ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

979 views

### Non-“weakly group theoretical” integral fusion categories?

Is there an integral fusion category of global dimension $210$, such that the simple objects have dimensions $\{1,5,5,5,6,7,7\}$ and the following fusion matrices?
$\small{\begin{smallmatrix}
1 & ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

595 views

### Standard polynomials applied to matrices

The standard polynomial in $r$ non-commuting indeterminates $x_1,\ldots,x_r$ is defined by
$${\mathcal S}_r(x_1,\ldots,x_r):=\sum_{\sigma\in S_r}\epsilon(\sigma)x_{\sigma(1)}x_{\sigma(2)}\cdots x_{\...

**16**

votes

**0**answers

700 views

### Relative commutants of abelian von Neumann algebras

This question arose from the discussion over at the question Centralizers in $C^*$-algebras.
Which von Neumann algebras $N$ satisfy the property that $A' \cap N = B' \cap N \implies A = B$, for all ...