Noncommutative Analysis

Category: Functional analysis

Course announcement: “Topics in Functional Analysis 106433 – Introduction to Operator Algebras”

My sabbatical is nearing its end and I starting to get used to the idea of getting back to teaching. Luckily (or is it really just luck?) I am going to have a very smooth return to teaching, because this coming fall I will be teaching a topics course of my choice, and it is going to be an introduction to operator algebras (the official course title and number are above). To be honest, the idea is to give the optimal course for students who will work with me, but I believe that other students will also enjoy it and find it useful. I will probably use this blog to post material and notes.

Here is the content of the info page that I will be distributing:

Topics in Functional Analysis 106433

Winter 2021

Introduction to Operator Algebras

Lecturer: Orr Shalit (, Amado 709)

Credit points: 3

Summary: The theory of operator algebras is one of the richest and broadest research areas within contemporary functional analysis, having deep connections to every subject in mathematics. In fact, this topic is so huge that the research splits into several distinct branches: C*-algebras, von Neumann algebras, non-selfadjoint operator algebras, and others. Our goal in this course is to master the basics of the subject matter, get a taste of the material in every branch, and develop a high-level understanding of operator algebras.

The plan is to study the following topics:

  1. Banach algebras and the basics of C*-algebras.
  2. Commutative C*-algebras. Function algebras.
  3. The basic theory of von Neumann algebras.
  4. Representations of C*-algebras. GNS representation. Algebras of compact operators.
  5. Introduction to operator spaces, non-selfadjoint operator algebras, and completely bounded maps.
  6. Time permitting, we will learn some additional advanced topics (to be decided according to the students’ and the instructor’s interests). Possible topics:
    1. C*-algebras and von Neumann algebras associated with discrete groups.
    1. Nuclearity, tensor products and approximation techniques.
    1. Arveson’s theory of the C*-envelope and hyperrigidity.
    1. Hilbert C*-modules.

Prerequisites: I will assume that the students have taken (or are taking concurrently) the graduate course in functional analysis. Exceptional students, who are interested in this course but did not take Functional Analysis, should talk to the instructor before enrolling.

The grade: The grade will be based on written assignments, that will be presented and defended by the students.


The following are good general references, though we shall not follow any of them very closely (at most a chapter here or there).   

  1. Orr Shalit’s lecture notes.
  2. K.R. Davidson, “C*-Algebras by Example”.
  3. R.V. Kadison and J. Ringrose, “Fundamentals of the Theory of Operator Algebras”.
  4. C. Anantharaman and S. Popa, “An Introduction to II_1 Factors”.
  5. N.P. Brown and N. Ozawa, “C*-Algebras and Finite Dimensional Approximations”
  6. V. Paulsen, “Completely Bounded Maps and Operator Algebras”.

Slides of my talk at the seminar “in” Bucharest

This Wednesday I gave a talk at the Institute of Mathematics in Bucharest, live on zoom. Here are the slides:

In this talk, I decided to put an emphasis on telling the story of how we found ourselves working on this problem, rather than giving a logical presentation of the results in the paper that I was trying to advertise (this paper). I am not sure how much of this story one can get from the slides, but here they are.

Seminar talk by Dor-On: Quantum symmetries in the representation theory of operator algebras


On next Thursday the Operator Algebras and Operator Seminar will convene for a talk by Adam Dor-On.

Title: Quantum symmetries in the representation theory of operator algebras

Speaker: Adam Dor-On (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


(Zoom room will open about ten minutes earlier, and the talk will begin at 15:30)

Zoom link: email me.


We introduce a non-self-adjoint generalization of Quigg’s notion of coaction of a discrete group G on a C*-algebra. We call these coactions “quantum symmetries” because from the point of view of quantum groups, coactions on C*-algebras are just actions of a quantum dual group of G on the C*-algebra. We introduce and develop a compatible C*-envelope, which is the smallest C*-coaction system which contains a given operator algebra coaction system, and we call it the cosystem C*-envelope.

It turns out that the new point of view of quantum symmetries of non-self-adjoint algebras is useful for resolving problems in both C*-algebra theory and non-self-adjoint operator algebra theory. We use quantum symmetries to resolve some problems left open in work of Clouatre and Ramsey on finite dimensional approximations of representations, as well as a problem of Carlsen, Larsen, Sims and Vitadello on the existence of a co-universal C*-algebra for product systems over arbitrary right LCM semigroup embedded in groups. This latter problem was resolved for abelian lattice ordered semigroups by the speaker and Katsoulis, and we extend this to arbitrary right LCM semigroups. Consequently, we are also able to extend the Hao-Ng isomorphism theorems of the speaker with Katsoulis from abelian lattice ordered semigroups to arbitrary right LCM semigroups.

*This talk is based on two papers. One with Clouatre, and another with Kakariadis, Katsoulis, Laca and X. Li.

Seminar talk by Salomon: Combinatorial and operator algebraic aspects of proximal actions

The Operator Algebras and Operator Theory Seminar is back (sort of). This semester we will have the seminar on Thursdays 15:30 (Israel time) about once in a while. Please send me an email if you want to join the mailing list and get the link for the zoom meetings. Here are the details for our first talk :

Title: Combinatorial and operator algebraic aspects of proximal actions

Speaker: Guy Salomon (Weizmann Institute)

Time: 15:30-16:30,Thursday Nov. 12, 2020

(Zoom room will open about ten minutes earlier, and the talk will begin at 15:30)

Zoom link: email me.


An action of a discrete group G on a compact Hausdorff space X is called proximal if for every two points x and y of X there is a net g_i \in G such that \lim(g_i x)=\lim(g_i y), and strongly proximal if the natural action of G on the space P(X) of probability measures on X is proximal. The group G is called strongly amenable if all of its proximal actions have a fixed point and amenable if all of its strongly proximal actions have a fixed point.

In this talk I will present relations between some fundamental operator theoretic concepts to proximal and strongly proximal actions, and hence to amenable and strongly amenable groups. In particular, I will focus on the C*-algebra of continuous functions over the universal minimal proximal G-flow and characterize it in the category of G-operator-systems.

I will then show that nontrivial proximal actions of G can arise from partitions of G into a certain kind of “large” subsets. If time allows, I will also present some relations to the Poisson boundaries of G. The talk is based on a joint work with Matthew Kennedy and Sven Raum.

Michael Hartz awarded Zemanek prize in functional analysis

Idly skimming through the September issue of the Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, I stumbled upon the very happy announcement that the 2020 Jaroslav and Barbara Zemanek prize in functional analysis with emphasis on operator theory was awarded to Michael Hartz.

The breakthrough result that every complete Nevanlinna-Pick space has the column-row property is one of his latest results and has appeared on the arxiv this May. Besides solving an interesting open problem, it is a really elegant and strong paper.

It is satisfying to see a young and very talented mathematician get recognition!

Full disclosure 😉 Michael is a sort of mathematical relative (he was a PhD student of my postdoc supervisor Ken Davidson), a collaborator (together with Ken Davidson we wrote the paper Multipliers of embedded discs) and a friend. I have to boast that from the moment that I heard about him I knew that he will do great things – in his first paper, which he wrote as a masters student, he ingeniously solved an open problem of Davidson, Ramsey and myself. Since then he has worked a lot on some problems that are close to my interests, and I have been following him with admiration.

Congratulations Michael!