Recent Papers

  • Given an m-dimensional CW complex K, we use a version of the Goodwillie-Weiss tower to formulate an obstruction theory for embeddings into a Euclidean space Rd. For 2-complexes in R4, 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 give the same result, and 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.

  • We introduce and study the notion of filling links in 3-manifolds: a link L is filling in M if for any 1-spine G of M which is disjoint from L, π1(G) injects into π1(M∖L). A weaker "k-filling" version concerns injectivity modulo k-th term of the lower central series. For each k>1 we construct a k-filling link in the 3-torus. The proof relies on an extension of the Stallings theorem which may be of independent interest. We discuss notions related to "filling" links in 3-manifolds, and formulate several open problems. The appendix by C. Leininger and A. Reid establishes the existence of a filling hyperbolic link in any closed orientable 3-manifold with π1(M) of rank 2.

  • Akhmechet R, Krushkal V, Willis M. Towards an sl2 action on the annular Khovanov spectrum. https://arxiv.org/abs/2011.11234. 2020.

    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. 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. arXiv:2001.00077; to appear in Compositio Math. 2020.

    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.

  • Freedman M, Krushkal V. Engel groups and universal surgery models. Journal of Topology. 2020;13:1302-1316.

    We introduce a collection of 1/2-π1-null 4-dimensional surgery problems. This is an intermediate notion between the classically studied universal surgery models and the π1-null kernels which are known to admit a solution in the topological category. Using geometric applications of the group-theoretic 2-Engel relation, we show that the 1/2-π1-null surgery problems are universal, in the sense that solving them is equivalent to establishing 4-dimensional topological surgery for all fundamental groups. As another application of these methods, we formulate a weaker version of the π1-null disk lemma and show that it is sufficient for proofs of topological surgery and s-cobordism theorems for good groups.