European Congress of Mathematics
Amsterdam, 14–18 July, 2008
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This is a survey on known results and open problems about closed aspherical manifolds, i.e., connected closed manifolds whose universal coverings are contractible. Many examples come from certain kinds of non-positive curvature conditions. The property aspherical, which is a purely homotopy theoretical condition, implies many striking results about the geometry and analysis of the manifold or its universal covering, and the ring theoretic properties and the K- and L-theory of the group ring associated to its fundamental group. The Borel Conjecture predicts that closed aspherical manifolds are topologically rigid. The article contains new results about product decompositions of closed aspherical manifolds and an announcement of a result joint with Arthur Bartels and Shmuel Weinberger about hyperbolic groups with spheres of dimension ≥ 6 as boundary. At the end we describe (winking) our universe of closed manifolds.
Keywords: Aspherical closed manifolds, topological rigidity, conjectures due to Borel, Novikov, Hopf, Singer, non-positively curved spaces