Workshop on Dynamics and Moduli Spaces of Translation Surfaces

October 22 - 26, 2018, The Fields Institute

**Pat Hooper** (City College of New York & CUNY Graduate Center)

joint with

**Khalid Bou-Rabee** (City College of New York & CUNY Graduate Center)

*The Extrinsic Primitive Torsion Problem* arXiv:1708.02093

- Definitions, basic examples, motivating results
- Symmetric square tiled surfaces through cylinders

- Let $G$ be a discrete group and $S$ be a surface. A
*$G$-cover*of $S$ is a regular cover $\tilde S \to S$ with Deck group isomorphic to $G$. - Let $\mu$ be a measure on a $G$-cover $\tilde S$, and $\alpha:G \to \R_{>0}$ be a group homomorphism.
Then $\mu$ is
*Maharam*if $$\mu \circ g = \alpha(g) \mu \quad \text{for all $g \in G$.}$$

**Theorem** (Babillot, Ledrappier–Sarig)

Let $\tilde S$ is a nilpotent-cover of a compact hyperbolic surface and $h^t:T_1 \tilde S \to T_1 \tilde S$ be
the horocycle flow. Then the the ergodic horocycle-flow invariant Radon measures are the Maharam measures which are in bijective
correspondence with $Hom(G,\R_{>0}) = \{\alpha:G \to \R_{>0}\}$.

- A square-tiled surface is a cover of ${\mathbb T}^\ast=\T^2 \smallsetminus \{0\}$.
- The straight-line flow in direction $\theta$ is $$F_\theta^t:S \to S; ~ z \mapsto z + e^{i \theta} \text{ in local coordinates}.$$

**Theorem** (H) Let $\tilde S$ be a nilpotent-cover of a compact translation surface $S$ which is possibly branched.
Assume there are horizontal
and vertical affine multitwists $\phi,\psi:\tilde S \to \tilde S$ in horizontal
and vertical cylinder decompositions and that each cylinder intersects at least two others. Let
$$\Gamma = \langle D(\phi), D(\psi) \rangle =
\left\langle \left(\begin{array}{r} 1 & a \\ 0 & 1 \end{array}\right),
\left(\begin{array}{r} 1 & 0 \\ b & 1 \end{array}\right)\right\rangle.$$
Then for all but countably many $\theta$ in the limit set of $\Gamma$, the flow $F_\theta$ is ergodic.
Moreover, the locally-finite ergodic invariant Borel measures are the $\alpha$-Maharam measures and
there is one for each $\alpha:G \to \R_{>0}.$

**Def.** Let $S$ be a square-tiled surface with covering map $\pi:S \to \T^\ast$. Let $k \geq 2$.}
We say $S$ is $k$-periodic if for every non-singular geodesic $\tilde \gamma$ of rational slope in $S$,
the restriction of $\pi$ to $\tilde \gamma \to \pi(\tilde \gamma)$ is a finite cover of degree dividing $k$.

**Prop.** For each integer $k \geq 2$, there is a universal $k$-periodic square-tiled surface $U_k$. That is,
$U_k$ is a $k$-periodic square tiled surface and if $S$ is another one, there is a covering $U_k \to S$.

**Open Question:**
Are the groups $P_k$ for $k \geq 6$ finitely normally generated?
Is our countable list of generators minimal?

**Theorem 1 (H – Bou-Rabee).**

The surface $U_k$ is infinite (equivalently, $F_2/P_k$ is infinite) if and only if $k \geq 4$.

**Theorem 2 (H – Bou-Rabee).**

The group $G_4 = F_2/P_4$ is virtually a torsion-free nilpotent group of dimension $5$ and nilpotence class $2$.
There is a faithful representation $\tilde{\tilde{\rho}}:F_2/P_4 \to SL(9,\C)$ determined by
$$\tilde{\tilde{\rho}}(a)=\textit{diag}(1, -1, -i, -i; -1, 1, i, i; 1),$$
$$\tilde{\tilde{\rho}}_4(b)=\left(\begin{array}{rrrr|rrrr|r}
0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 1 & 0 & 0 \\
0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\
0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 & 1 \\
0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\
\hline
0 & -1 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\
1 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\
0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\
0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 \\
\hline
0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1
\end{array}\right).$$

**Cor.** $U_4$ is a torsion-free class $2$ nilpotent cover of the *eierlegende Wollmilchsau*, the
8-square surface built associated to the quaterion group.

This surface was found independently by Forni and by Herrlich – Möller – Weitze-Schmithüsen.

The surface $U_4$ is a $\Z$-cover of a $\Z^4$-cover of the Wollmilchsau. The deck group $G_4=F_2/P_4$ is a $\Z$-extension of a $\Z^4$-extension of the quaternion group.

**Theorem (Frączek – Schmoll)**

Straight-line flow is ergodic in a.e. direction on $U_4/\Z$.

There is a decomposition $\Aut(F_2)=\Aut_+(F_2) \cup \Aut_-(F_2)$, where signs are assigned to an automorphism depending on the determinant of the image in $\GL(2,\Z)=Out(F_2)$.

- For every $\psi \in \Aut_+(F_2)$ there is an $M \in GL(m,\C)$ so that $$M \cdot \rho \circ \psi^{-1}(g) \cdot M^{-1} = \rho(g) \quad \text{for all $g \in F_2$.}$$
- For every $\psi \in \Aut_-(F_2)$ there is an $M \in GL(m,\C)$ so that $$ M \cdot \overline{\rho \circ \psi^{-1}(g)} \cdot M^{-1} = \rho(g) \quad \text{for all $g \in F_2$.}$$