Noncommutative Analysis

Category: Operator algebras

Souvenirs from the Red River

Last week I attended the annual Canadian Operator Symposium, better known in its nickname: COSY. This conference happens every year and travels between Canadian universities, and this time it was held in the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. It was organized by Raphaël Clouâtre and Nina Zorboska, who altogether did a great job.

My first discovery: Winnipeg is not that bad! In fact I loved it. Example: here is the view from the window of my room in the university residence:


Not bad, right? A very beautiful sight to wake up to in the morning. (I got the impression, that Winnipeg is nothing to look forward to, from Canadians. People of the world: don’t listen to Canadians when they say something bad about any place that just doesn’t quite live up to the standard of Montreal, Vancouver, or Banff.) Here is what you see if you look from the other side of the building:  Read the rest of this entry »


Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 7 (von Neumann algebras as dual spaces, various topologies)

Until this point in the course, we concentrated on constructions of von Neumann algebras, examples, and properties of von Neumann algebras as algebras. In this lecture we turn to study subtler topological and Banach-space theoretic aspects of von Neumann algebras. We begin by showing that every von Neumann algebra is the Banach-space dual of a Banach space. For this to have any hope of being true, it must be true for the von Neumann algebra B(H); we therefore look there first.

(The reference for this lecture is mostly Takesaki, Vol. I, Chapters 2 and 3).

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Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 6 (tensor products of Hilbert spaces and vN algebras; the GNS representation, the hyperfinite II_1 factor)

In this lecture we will introduce tensor products of Hilbert spaces. This construction is very useful for exhibiting various operators, and, in particular, it will enable us to introduce new von Neumann algebras. In particular, we will construct the so called hyperfinite II_1 factor.

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Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 5 (comparison of projections and classification into types of von Neumann algebras)

In the previous lecture we discussed the group von Neumann algebras, and we saw that they can never be isomorphic to B(H). There is something fundamentally different about these algebras, and this was manifested by the existence of a trace. von Neumann algebras with traces are special, and the existence or non-existence of a trace can be used to classify von Neumann algebras, into rather broad “types”. In this lecture we will study the theory of Murray and von Neumann on the comparison of projections and the use of this theory to classify von Neumann algebras into “types”. We will also see how traces (or generalized traces) fit in. (For preparing these notes, I used Takesaki (Vol I) and Kadison-Ringrose (Vol. II).)

Most of the time we will stick to the assumption that all Hilbert spaces appearing are separable. This will only be needed at one or two spots (can you spot them?).

In addition to “Exercises”, I will start suggesting “Projects”. These projects might require investing a significant amount of time (a student is not expected to choose more than one project).

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Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 4 (group von Neumann algebras)

As the main reference for this lecture we use (more-or-less) Section 1.3 in the notes by Anantharaman and Popa (here is a link to the notes on Popa’s homepage).

As for exercises:  Read the rest of this entry »

Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 3 (some more generalities, projection constructions, commutative von Neumann algebras)

In this lecture we will describe some projection construction in von Neumann algebras, and we will classify commutative von Neumann algebras.

So far (the first two lectures and in this one), the references I used for preparing these notes are Conway (A Course in Operator Theory) Davidson (C*-algebras by Example), Kadison-Ringrose (Fundamentals of the Theory of Operator Algebras, Vol .I), and the notes on Sorin Popa’s homepage. But since I sometimes insist on putting the pieces together in a different order, the reader should be on the look out for mistakes.

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Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 2 (Definitions, the double commutant theorem, etc.)

In this second lecture we start a systematic study of von Neumann algebras.

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Introduction to von Neumann algebras, Lecture 1 (Introduction to the course, and a crash course in operator algebras, the spectral theorem)

1. Micro prologue

Perhaps we cannot start a course on von Neumann algebras, without making a few historical notes about the beginning of the theory.

(To say it more honestly and openly, what I wanted to say is that perhaps I cannot teach a course on von Neumann algebras without finally reading the classical works by von Neumann and also learning a bit about the man. von Neumann was a true genius and has contributed all over mathematics, see the Wikipedia article).

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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 function 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 < 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.

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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