Krushkal V, Liles L, Luo Y. Thompson’s group F, tangles, and link homology. arXiv:2403.16838. 2024.

We extend a construction of Jones to associate (n, n)-tangles with elements of Thompson's group F and prove that it is asymptotically faithful as \(n \to\infty\). Using this construction we show that the oriented Thompson group \(\vec F\) admits a lax group action on a category of Khovanov's chain complexes.

Freedman MH, Krushkal V, Lidman T. Spineless 5-manifolds and the deformation conjecture. arXiv:2401.03498. 2024.

We construct a compact PL 5-manifold M (with boundary) which is homotopy equivalent to the wedge of eleven 2-spheres, V11 S2,
which is ``spineless'', meaning M is not the regular neighborhood of any 2-complex PL embedded in M.
We formulate a related question about the existence of exotic smooth structures on 4-manifolds which is of interest in relation to the deformation conjecture for 2-complexes, also known as the generalized Andrews-Curtis conjecture. 


Khovanov M, Krushkal V, Nicholson J. On the universal pairing for 2-complexes. arXiv:2312.07429. 2023.

The universal pairing for manifolds was defined and shown to lack positivity in dimension 4 by Freedman et al. We prove an analogous result for 2-complexes, and also show that the universal pairing does not detect the difference between simple homotopy equivalence and 3-deformations. The question of whether these two equivalence relations are different for 2-complexes is the subject of the Andrews-Curtis conjecture. We also discuss the universal pairing for higher-dimensional complexes and show that it is not positive.

Gabai D, Gay D, Hartman D, Krushkal V, Powell M. Pseudo-isotopies of simply connected 4-manifolds. arXiv:2311.11196. 2023.

Perron and Quinn gave independent proofs in 1986 that every topological pseudo-isotopy of a simply-connected, compact topological 4-manifold is isotopic to the identity. Another result of Quinn is that every smooth pseudo-isotopy of a simply-connected, compact, smooth 4-manifold is smoothly stably isotopic to the identity. From this he deduced that π4(TOP(4)/O(4))=0. A replacement criterion is used at a key juncture in Quinn's proofs, but the justification given for it is incorrect. We provide different arguments that bypass the replacement criterion, thus completing Quinn's proofs of both the topological and the stable smooth pseudo-isotopy theorems. We discuss the replacement criterion and state it as an open problem.

Akhmechet R, Johnson P, Krushkal V. Lattice cohomology and  q-series invariants of 3-manifolds. J. Reine Angew. Math. 796 (2023), 269-299. 2023.

An invariant is introduced for negative definite plumbed 3-manifolds equipped with a spinc-structure. It unifies and extends two theories with rather different origins and structures. One theory is lattice cohomology, motivated by the study of normal surface singularities, known to be isomorphic to the Heegaard Floer homology for certain classes of plumbed 3-manifolds. Another specialization  gives BPS q-series which satisfy some remarkable modularity properties and recover SU(2) quantum invariants of 3-manifolds at roots of unity. 
In particular, our work gives rise to a 2-variable refinement of the \(\widehat Z\)-invariant. 

Arone G, Krushkal V. Embedding obstructions in Rd from the Goodwillie-Weiss calculus and Whitney disks. Asian J. Math. 27 (2023), no. 2, 135-186. 2023.

Given a finite CW complex $K$, we use a version of the Goodwillie-Weiss tower to formulate an obstruction theory for embeddings of $K$ into a Euclidean space $\R^d$. For $2$-dimensional complexes in $\R^4$, a geometric analogue is also introduced, based on intersections of Whitney disks and more generally on the intersection theory of Whitney towers developed by Schneiderman and Teichner. The focus in this paper is on the first obstruction beyond the classical embedding obstruction of van Kampen. In this case  we show the two approaches lead to essentially the same obstruction. We also relate it to the Arnold class in the cohomology of configuration spaces. The obstructions are shown to be realized in a family of examples. Conjectures are formulated, relating higher versions of these homotopy-theoretic, geometric and cohomological theories.

Krushkal V, Wedrich P. gl(2)  foams and the Khovanov homotopy type. Indiana Univ. Math. J. 72 (2023), no. 2, 731-755. 2023.

The Blanchet link homology theory is an oriented model of Khovanov homology, functorial over the integers with respect to link cobordisms. We formulate a stable homotopy refinement of the Blanchet theory, based on a comparison of the Blanchet and Khovanov chain complexes associated to link diagrams. The construction of the stable homotopy type relies on the signed Burnside category approach of Sarkar-Scaduto-Stoffregen.

Fendley P, Krushkal V. Topological quantum field theory and polynomial identities for graphs on the torus. Ann. Inst. Henri Poincaré D 10 (2023), 277-298. 2023.

We establish a relation between the trace evaluation in SO(3) topological quantum field theory and evaluations of a topological Tutte polynomial. As an application, a generalization of the Tutte golden identity is proved for graphs on the torus.


Akhmechet R, Krushkal V, Willis M. Towards an sl2 action on the annular Khovanov spectrum. Adv. Math. 408 (2022), Paper No. 108581, 65 pp. 2022.

Given a link in the thickened annulus, its annular Khovanov homology carries an action of the Lie algebra sl2, which is natural with respect to annular link cobordisms. We consider the problem of lifting this action to the stable homotopy refinement of the annular homology. As part of this program, the actions of the standard generators of sl2 are lifted to maps of spectra. In particular, it follows that the sl2 action on homology commutes with the action of the Steenrod algebra. The main new technical ingredients developed in this paper, which may be of independent interest, concern certain types of cancellations in the cube of resolutions and the resulting more intricate structure of the moduli spaces in the framed flow category.


Akhmechet R, Krushkal V, Willis M. Stable homotopy refinement of quantum annular homology. Compos. Math. 157 (2021), 710-769. 2021.

We construct a stable homotopy refinement of quantum annular homology, a link homology theory introduced by Beliakova, Putyra and Wehrli. For each r>2 we associate to an annular link L a naive Z/rZ-equivariant spectrum whose cohomology is isomorphic to the quantum annular homology of L as modules over Z[Z/rZ]. The construction relies on an equivariant version of the Burnside category approach of Lawson, Lipshitz and Sarkar. The quotient under the cyclic group action is shown to recover the stable homotopy refinement of annular Khovanov homology. We study spectrum level lifts of structural properties of quantum annular homology.