Oberwolfach Reports


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Volume 5, Issue 4, 2008, pp. 2763–2814
DOI: 10.4171/OWR/2008/49

Published online: 2009-09-30

Von Neumann Algebras and Ergodic Theory of Group Actions

Dietmar Bisch[1], Damien Gaboriau[2], Vaughan F. R. Jones[3] and Sorin Popa[4]

(1) Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA
(2) École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France
(3) Vanderbilt University, Nashville, United States
(4) University of California Los Angeles, United States

The workshop \emph{Von Neumann Algebras and Ergodic Theory of Group Actions} was organized by Dietmar Bisch (Vanderbilt University, Nashville), Damien Gaboriau (ENS Lyon), Vaughan Jones (UC Berkeley) and Sorin Popa (UC Los Angeles). It was held in Oberwolfach from October 26 to November 1, 2008.

This workshop was the first Oberwolfach meeting on von Neumann algebras and orbit equivalence ergodic theory. The organizers took special care to invite many young mathematicians and more than half of the 28 talks were given by them. The meeting was very well attended by over 40 participants, leading senior researchers and junior mathematicians in the field alike. Participants came from about a dozen different countries including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Poland, Switzerland and the USA.

The first day of the workshop featured beautiful introductory talks to orbit equivalence and von Neumann algebras (Gaboriau), Popa's deformation/rigidity techniques and applications to rigidity in II$_1$ factors (Vaes), subfactors and planar algebras (Bisch), random matrices, free probability and subfactors (Shlyakhtenko), subfactor lattices and conformal field theory (Xu) and an open problem session (Popa). There were many excellent lectures during the subsequent days of the conference and many new results were presented, some for the first time during this meeting. A few of the highlights of the workshop were Vaes' report on a new cocycle superrigidity result for non-singular actions of lattices in SL(n,$\mathbb R$) on ${\mathbb R}^n$ and on other homogeneous spaces (joint with Popa), Ioana's result showing that every sub-equivalence relation of the equivalence relation arising from the standard SL(2,$\mathbb Z$)-action on the $2$-torus ${\mathbb T}^2$ is either hyperfinite, or has relative property (T), and Epstein's report on her result that every countable, non-amenable group admits continuum many non-orbit equivalent, free, measure preserving, ergodic actions on a standard probability space. Other talks discussed new results on fundamental groups of II$_1$ factors, L$^2$-rigidity in von Neumann algebras, II$_1$ factors with at most one Cartan subalgebra, subfactors from Hadamard matrices, a new construction of subfactors from a planar algebra and new results on topological rigidity and the Atiyah conjecture. Many interactions and stimulating discussions took place at this workshop, which is of course exactly what the organizers had intended.

The organizers would like to thank the Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach for providing the splendid environnment for holding this conference. Special thanks go to the very helpful and competent staff of the institute.

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Bisch Dietmar, Gaboriau Damien, Jones Vaughan, Popa Sorin: Von Neumann Algebras and Ergodic Theory of Group Actions. Oberwolfach Rep. 5 (2008), 2763-2814. doi: 10.4171/OWR/2008/49