Noncommutative Analysis

Algebras of bounded noncommutative analytic functions on subvarieties of the noncommutative unit ball

Guy Salomon, Eli Shamovich and I recently uploaded to the arxiv our paper “Algebras of bounded noncommutative analytic functions on subvarieties of the noncommutative unit ball“. This paper blends in with the current growing interest in noncommutative functions theory, continues and unifies several strands of my past research.

A couple of years ago, after being inspired by lectures of Agler, Ball, McCarthy and  Vinnikov on the subject, and after years of being influenced by Paul Muhly and Baruch Solel’s work, I realized that many of my different research projects (subproduct systems, the isomorphism problem, space of Dirichlet series with the complete Pick property, operator algebras associated with monomial ideals) are connected by the unifying theme of bounded analytic nc functions on subvarieties of the nc ball. “Realized” is a strong word, because many of my original ideas on this turned out to be false, and others I still don’t know how to prove. Anyway, it took me a couple of years and a lot of help, and here is this paper.

In short, we study algebras of bounded analytic functions on subvarieties of the the noncommutative (nc) unit ball :

\mathfrak{B}_d = \{(X_1, \ldots, X_d) tuples of n \times n matrices,  \sum X_i X_i \leq I\}

as well as bounded analytic functions that extend continuously to the “boundary”. We show that these algebras are multiplier algebras of appropriate nc reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces, and are completely isometrically isomorphic to the quotient of H^\infty(\mathfrak{B}_d) (the bounded nc analytic functions in the ball) by the ideal of nc functions vanishing on the variety. We classify these algebras in terms of the varieties, similar to classification results in the commutative case. We also identify previously studied algebras (such as multiplier algebras of complete Pick spaces and tensor algebras of subproduct systems) as algebras of bounded analytic functions on nc varieties. See the introduction for more.

We certainly plan to continue this line of research in the near future – in particular, the passage to other domains (beyond the ball), and the study of algebraic/bounded isomorphisms.

A First Course in Functional Analysis (my book)

She’hechiyanu Ve’kiyemanu!

My book, A First Course in Functional Analysis, to be published with Chapman and Hall/CRC, will soon be out. There is already a cover, check it out on the CRC Press website.

This book is written to accompany an undergraduate course in functional analysis, where the course I had in mind is precisely the course that we give here at the Technion, with the same constraints. Constraint number 1: a course in measure theory is not mandatory in our undergraduate program. So how can one seriously teach functional analysis with significant applications? Well, one can, and I hope that this book proves that one can. I already wrote before, measure theory is not a must. Of course anyone going for a graduate degree in math should study measure theory (and get an A), but I’d like the students to be able to study functional analysis before that (so that they can do a masters degree in operator theory with me).

I believe that the readers will find many other original organizational contributions to the presentation of functional analysis in this book, but I leave them for you to discover. Instructors can request an e-copy for inspection (in the link to the publisher website above), friends and direct students can get a copy from me, and I hope that the rest of the world will recommend this book to their library (or wait for the libgen version).

Introduction to von Neumann algebras (Topics in functional analysis 106433 – Spring 2017)

This coming spring semester, I will be giving a graduate course, “Introduction to von Neumann algebras”. This will be a rather basic course, since most of our graduate students haven’t had much operator algebras. (Unfortunately, most of our graduate students didn’t all take the topics course I gave the previous spring). In any sub-field of operator theory, operator algebras, and noncommutative analysis, von Neumann algebras appear and are needed. Thus, this course is meant first and foremost to give (prospective) students and postdocs in our group the opportunity to add this subject to the foundational part of their training. This course is also an opportunity for me to refurbish and reorganize the working knowledge that I acquired during several years of occasional encounters with this theory. Finally, I believe that this course could be really interesting to other serious students of mathematics, who will have many occasions to bump into von Neumann algebras, regardless of the specific research topic that they decide to devote themselves to (yes, you too!).

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Aleman, Hartz, McCarthy and Richter characterize interpolating sequences in complete Pick spaces

The purpose of this post is to discuss the recent important contribution by Aleman, Hartz, McCarthy and Richter to the characterization of interpolating sequences (for multiplier algebras of certain Hilbert function spaces). Their recent paper “Interpolating sequences in spaces with the complete Pick property” was uploaded to the arxiv about two weeks ago, and, as usual, writing this post is meant mostly as a diversion for me (somewhere between doing “real” work and getting frustrated about the news), just giving some background and stating the main result. (Even more recently these four authors released yet another paper that looks very interesting – this one.)

1. Background – interpolating sequences

We will be working with the notion of Hilbert function spaces – also called reproducing Hilbert spaces (see this post for an introduction). Suppose that H is a Hilbert function space on a set X, and k its reproducing kernel. The Pick interpolation problem is the following:

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Journal of Xenomathematics

I am happy to advertise the existence of a new electronic journal/forum/website: Journal of Xenomathematics. Don’t worry, it’s not another new research journal. The editor is John E. McCarthy. The purpose is to discuss mathematics that is out of this world. Aren’t you curious?

Multivariable Operator Theory workshop at the Technion (Haifa, June 2017)

I am happy to advertise the research workshop Multivariable Operator Theory, that will take place at the Technion, In June 18-22, 2017, on the occasion of Baruch Solel’s 65 birthday. Here is the workshop webpage, and here is a link to the poster. The website and poster contain a preliminary list of speakers, and some words of explanation of what the workshop is about, roughly.

The workshop proper (that is: lectures) will take place from Monday June 19 to Thursday June 22, morning to evening. Everyone is welcome to attend, and there is no registration fee, but if you are planning to come you better contact me so we make sure that there is enough room in the lecture room, enough fruit and cookies in the breaks, etc. The information on the website will be updated from time to time, and will probably converge as the time of the workshop comes near.

Please free to contact me if you have any questions.

New journal: Advances in Operator Theory

I am writing to let you know about a new journal: Advances in Operator Theory.

This is good news! There is certainly room for another very good journal in operator theory. Naturally, this journal will be open access, and, obviously, there will be no author fees (page charges, or whatever you want to call that). So this is just the kind of journal we need, granted that it will be able to maintain a high standard and slowly build its reputation.

The first step in establishing a reputation is achieved: AOT has a respectable editorial board, with several distinguished members.

The founding editor-in-chief is Mohammad Sal Moslehian, who has been making efforts on the open access front at least since he launched the Banach Journal of Mathematical Analysis, roughly ten years ago. The BJMA is a good example of an electronic journal that started from scratch, and slowly worked its way to recognition (e.g., is now indexed by MathSciNet, etc.). I hope AOT follows suit, and hopefully will do even better; I believe it should aim to be at the level of Journal of Operator Theory, so that it can relieve JOT of a part of the load.

(Too bad that the acronym AOT, when spelled out, sounds very much like JOT. This will certainly lead to some confusion…)

A proof of Holder’s inequality

One of the parts of this blog that I am most proud of is my series of “Souvenirs” post, where I report about my favorite new finds in conferences. In July I went to a big conference (IWOTA 2016 in St. Louis) that I was looking forward to going to for a long time, but I did not write anything after I returned. It’s not that there was nothing to report – there was a lot, it was great conference. I was just too busy with other things.

Why am I so busy? Besides being the father of seven people (most of them “kids”) and preparing for next year, I am in the last stages of writing a book, partly based on the lecture notes on “Advanced Analysis” that appeared in this blog, and on lecture notes that evolved from that. (When it will be ready I will tell you about it, you can be sure). I want to share here and now one small excerpt from it (thanks to Guy Salomon for helping me finesse it!)

Working on the final touches to the book, I decided to include a proof of Holder’s inequality in it, but I did not want to copy a proof from somewhere.  So I came up with the following proof, which I think is new (and out of curiosity I am asking you to please tell me if you have seen it before). The lazy idea of the proof is to use the fact that we already know – thanks to Cauchy-Schwarz – that the inequality holds in the p =2 case, and to try to show how the general case follows from that.

In other words, instead of bringing you fancy souvenirs from St. Louis, I got you this little snack from the nearby mall (really, the proof crystallized in my head when my daughter, my dog and I were sitting and waiting on a bench in the mall until other members of our family finish shopping).

Definition. Two extended real numbers p,q \in [1, \infty] are said to be conjugate exponents if

\frac{1}{p} + \frac{1}{q} = 1.

If p=1 then we understand this to mean that q = \infty, and vice versa.

For any (finite or infinite) sequence x_1, x_2, x_3, \ldots, and and any p \in [1,\infty], we denote

\|x\|_p =\big(\sum |x_k|^p \big)^{1/p}.

Theorem (Holder’s inequality): Let p,q \in [1, \infty] be conjugate exponents.
Then for any two (finite or infinite) sequences x_1, x_2, \ldots and y_1, y_2, \ldots

\sum_k |x_k y_k| \leq \|x\|_p \|y\|_q.

Proof. The heart of the matter is to prove the inequality for finite sequences. Pushing the result to infinite sequences does not require any clever idea, and is left to the reader (no offense).
Therefore, we need to prove that for every x = (x_k)_{k=1}^n and y = (y_k)_{k=1}^n in \mathbb{C}^n,

(HI)   \sum |x_ky_k| \leq \big(\sum |x_k|^p \big)^{1/p} \big( \sum |y_k|^q \big)^{1/q}.

The case p=1 (or p=\infty) is immediate. The right hand side of (HI) is continuous in p when x and y are held fixed, so it enough to verify the inequality for a dense set of values of p in (1,\infty).

Define

S = \Big\{\frac{1}{p} \in (0,1) \Big| p satisfies  (HI)  for all x,y \in \mathbb{C}^n \Big\}.

Now our task reduces to that of showing that S is dense in (0,1). By the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality, we know that \frac{1}{2} \in S. Also, the roles of p and q are interchangeable, so \frac{1}{p} \in S if and only if 1 - \frac{1}{p} \in S.

Set a = \frac{q}{2p+q} (a is chosen to be the solution to 2ap = (1-a)q, we will use this soon). Now, if \frac{1}{p} \in S, we apply (HI) to the sequences (|x_k| |y_k|^{a})_k and (|y_k|^{1-a})_k, and then we use the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality, to obtain

\sum |x_k y_k| = \sum|x_k||y_k|^a |y_k|^{1-a}

\leq \Big(\sum |x_k|^p |y_k|^{ap} \Big)^{1/p}\Big(\sum |y_k|^{(1-a)q} \Big)^{1/q}

\leq \Big((\sum |x_k|^{2p})^{1/2} (\sum |y_k|^{2ap})^{1/2} \Big)^{1/p}\Big(\sum |y_k|^{(1-a)q} \Big)^{1/q}

= \Big(\sum |x_k|^{p'} \Big)^{1/p'} \Big(\sum|y_k|^{q'} \Big)^{1/q'}

where \frac{1}{p'} = \frac{1}{2p} and \frac{1}{q'} = \frac{1}{2p} + \frac{1}{q}. Therefore, if s = \frac{1}{p} \in S, then \frac{s}{2} = \frac{1}{2p} \in S; and if s = \frac{1}{q} \in S, then \frac{s+1}{2} = \frac{1}{2}\frac{1}{q}+\frac{1}{2} = \frac{1}{q} + \frac{1}{2}\frac{1}{p} is also in S.

Since \frac{1}{2} is known to be in S, it follows that \frac{1}{4} and \frac{3}{4} are also in S, and continuing by induction we see that for every n \in \mathbb{N} and m \in \{1,2, \ldots, 2^n-1\}, the fraction \frac{m}{2^n} is in S. Hence S is dense in (0,1), and the proof is complete.

Dilations, inclusions of matrix convex sets, and completely positive maps

In part to help myself to prepare for my talk in the upcoming IWOTA, and in part to help myself prepare for getting back to doing research on this subject now that the semester is over, I am going to write a little exposition on my joint paper with Davidson, Dor-On and Solel, Dilations, inclusions of matrix convex sets, and completely positive maps. Here are the slides of my talk.

The research on this paper began as part of a project on the interpolation problem for unital completely positive maps*, but while thinking on the problem we were led to other problems as well. Our work was heavily influenced by works of Helton, Klep, McCullough and Schweighofer (some which I wrote about the the second section of this previous post), but goes beyond. I will try to present our work by a narrative that is somewhat different from the way the story is told in our paper. In my upcoming talk I will concentrate on one aspect that I think is most suitable for a broad audience. One of my coauthors, Adam Dor-On, will give a complimentary talk dealing with some more “operator-algebraic” aspects of our work in the Multivariable Operator Theory special session.

[*The interpolation problem for unital completely positive maps is the problem of finding conditions for the existence of a unital completely positive (UCP) map that sends a given set of operators A_1, \ldots, A_d to another given set B_1, \ldots, B_d. See Section 3 below.]

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Thirty one years later: a counterattack on Halmos’s critique of non-standard analysis

As if to celebrate in an original way the fifty year anniversary of Bernstein and Robinson’s solution to (a generalization of) the Smith-Halmos conjecture (briefly, that if T is an operator such that p(T) is compact for some polynomial p, then T has an invariant subspace), several notable mathematicians posted a interesting and very nonstandard (as they say) paper on the arxiv.

This paper briefly tells the story regarding the publication of this paper, in which Bernstein and Robinson use Robinson’s new theory of non-standard analysis (NSA) to prove the above mentioned conjecture in operator theory. This was one of the first major successes of NSA, and perhaps one would think that all of the operator theory community should have accepted the achievement with nothing but high praise. Instead, it was received somewhat coldly: Halmos went to work immediately to translate the NSA proof and published a paper proving the same result, with a proof in “standard” operator theoretic terms. (See the paper, I am leaving out the juicy parts). And then, since 1966 until 2000 (more or less), Halmos has been apparently at “war” with NSA (in the paper the word “battle” is used), and has also had criticism of logic; for example, it is implied in his book that he did not always consider logic to be a part of mathematics, worse, it seems that he has not always considered logicians to be mathematicians. (When I wrote about Halmos’s book a few months ago, I wrote that I do not agree with all the opinions expressed in the book, and I remember having the issue with logic and logicians in my mind when writing that).

In the paper that appeared on the arxiv today, the authors take revenge on Halmos. Besides a (convincing) rebuttal of Halmos’s criticisms, the seven authors hand Halmos at least seven blows, not all of them below the belt. The excellent and somewhat cruel title says it all: A non-standard analysis of a cultural icon: the case of Paul Halmos.

Besides some feeling of uneasiness in seeing a corpse being metaphorically stabbed (where have you been in the last thirty years?), the paper raises interesting issues (without wallowing too much on either one), and may serve as a lesson to all of us. There is nothing in this story special to operator theory versus model theory, or NSA, or logic. The real story here is the suspicion and snubbish-ness of mathematicians towards fields in which they do not work, and towards people working in these fields.

I see it all the time. Don’t kid me: you have also seen quite a lot of it. It is possible, I confess, that I have exercised myself a small measure of suspicion and contempt to things that I don’t understand. As the authors of the paper hint, these things are worse than wrong – they might actually hurt people.

Anyway, many times people who are ignorantly snobbish to other fields end up looking like idiots. Stop doing that, or thirty years from now a mob of experts will come and tear you to shreds.

P.S. – It seems that the question of who was the referee of the Bernstein-Robinson paper is not settled, though some suspect it was Halmos. Well, if someone could get their hands on the (anonymous!) referee report (maybe Bernstein or Robinson kept the letter?), I am quite sure that if it was Halmos, it would be clear. In other words, if Bernstein or Robinson suspected that it was him on account of the style, then I bet it was.

 

P.P.S. – regarding the theorem starting this discussion the quickest way to understand it is via Lomonosov’s theorem. The invariant subspace theorem proved by Bernstein and Robinson (polynomially compact operator has an invariant subspace) is now superseded by Lomonosov’s theorem (google it for a simple proof), which says that every bounded operator on a Banach space that commutes with a nonzero compact operator has a non-trivial invariant subspace.