Noncommutative Analysis

Category: Noncommutative function theory

My talk at BIRS on “Noncommutative convexity, a la Davidson and Kennedy”

Update August 5: here is the link to the video recording of the talk: link.

I was invited to speak in the BIRS workshop Multivariable Operator Theory and Function Spaces in Several Variables. Surprise: the organizers asked each of the invited speakers (with the exception of some early career researchers, I think) to speak on somebody else’s work. I think that this is a very nice idea for two reasons.

First, it is very healthy to encourage researchers to open their eyes and look around, instead of concentrating always on their own work – either racing for another publication or “selling” it. At the very least being asked to speak about somebody else’s work, it is guaranteed that I will learn something new in the workshop!

The second reason why I think that this is a very welcome idea is maybe a bit deeper. Every mathematician works to solve their favorite problems or develop their theories, but every once in a while it is worthwhile to stop and think: what do we make out of all this? What are the results/theories/points of view that we would like to carry forward with us? The tree can’t grow in all directions with no checks – we need to prune it. We need to bridge the gap between the never stopping flow of papers and results, on one side, and the textbooks of the future, on the other side.

With these ambitious thoughts in mind, I chose to speak about Davidson and Kennedy’s paper “Noncommutative Choquet theory” in order to force myself to digest and internalize what looked to me to be an important paper from the moment it came out, and with this I hoped to stop a moment and rearrange my mental grip on noncommutative function theory and noncommutative convexity.

The theory developed by Davidson and Kennedy and its precursors were inspired to a very large extent by classical Choquet theory. It therefore seems that to understand it properly, as well as to understand the reasoning behind some of the definitions and approaches, one needs to be familiar with this theory. So one possible natural way to start to describe Davidson and Kennedy’s theory is by recalling the classical theory that it generalizes.

But I didn’t want to explain it in this way, because that is the way that Davidson and Kennedy’s exposition (both in the papers and in some talks that I saw) goes. I wanted to start with the noncommutative point of view from the outset. I did use the classical (i.e. commutative case) for a tiny bit of motivation but in a somewhat different way, which rests on stuff everybody knows. So, I did a little expository experiment, and if you think it blew up then everybody can simply go and read the original paper.

Here are my “slides”:

The conference webpage will have video recordings of all talks at some point.

The perfect Nullstellensatz just got more perfect

After giving a talk about the perfect Nullstellensatz (the commutative free Nullstellensatz) at the Technion Math department’s pizza and beer seminar, I had a revelation: I think it holds over other fields as well, not just over the complex numbers! (And in particular, contrary to what I thought before, it holds over the reals. It seems to hold over other fields as well). 

To explain, I will need some notation. 

Let k be a field. We write A = k[z_, \ldots, z_d] – the algebra of all polynomials in d (commuting) variables over the field k

Read the rest of this entry »

Around and under my talk at Fields

This week I am attending a Workshop on Developments and Technical Aspects of Free Noncommutative Functions at the Fields Institute in Toronto. Since I plan to give a chalk-talk, I cannot post my slides online (and I cannot prepare for my talk by preparing slides), so I will write here what some ideas around what I want to say in my talk, and also some ramblings I won’t have time to say in my talk.

[Several years ago I went to a conference in China and came back with the insight that in international conferences I should give a computer presentation and not a blackboard talk, because then people who cannot understand my accent can at least read the slides. It’s been almost six years since then and indeed I gave only beamer-talks since. My English has not improved over this period, I think, but I have several reasons for allowing myself to give an old fashioned lecture – the main ones are the nature of the workshop, the nature of the audience and the kind of things I have to say]. 

In the workshop Guy Salomon, Eli Shamovich and I will give a series of talks on our two papers (one and two). These two papers have a lot of small auxiliary results, which in usual conference talk we don’t get the chance to speak about. This workshop is a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight some of these results and the ideas behind them, which we feel might be somewhat buried in our paper and have gone unnoticed. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics in Operator Theory, Lecture 8: matrix convexity

In this lecture we will encounter the notion of matrix convexity. Matrix convexity is an active area of research today, and an important tool in noncommutative analysis. We will define matrix convex sets, and we will see that closed matrix convex sets have matrix extreme points which play a role similar to extreme points in analysis. As an example of a matrix convex set, we will study the set of all matrix states. We will use these notions to outline the proof that there are sufficiently many pure UCP maps, something that was left open from the previous lecture. 

Read the rest of this entry »

New paper “Compressions of compact tuples”, and announcement of mistake (and correction) in old paper “Dilations, inclusions of matrix convex sets, and completely positive maps”

Ben Passer and I have recently uploaded our preprint “Compressions of compact tuples” to the arxiv. In this paper we continue to study matrix ranges, and in particular matrix ranges of compact tuples. Recall that the matrix range of a tuple A = (A_1, \ldots, A_d) \in B(H)^d is the the free set \mathcal{W}(A) = \sqcup_{n=1}^\infty \mathcal{W}_n(A), where

\mathcal{W}_n(A) = \{(\phi(A_1), \ldots, \phi(A_d)) : \phi : B(H) \to M_n is UCP \}.

A tuple A is said to be minimal if there is no proper reducing subspace G \subset H such that \mathcal{W}(P_G A\big|_G) = \mathcal{W}(A). It is said to be fully compressed if there is no proper subspace whatsoever G \subset H such that \mathcal{W}(P_G A\big|_G) = \mathcal{W}(A).

In an earlier paper (“Dilations, inclusions of matrix convex sets, and completely positive maps”) I wrote with other co-authors, we claimed that if two compact tuples A and B are minimal and have the same matrix range, then A is unitarily equivalent to B; see Section 6 there (the printed version corresponds to version 2 of the paper on arxiv). This is false, as subsequent examples by Ben Passer showed (see this paper). A couple of other statements in that section are also incorrect, most obviously the claim that every compact tuple can be compressed to a minimal compact tuple with the same matrix range. All the problems with Section 6 of that earlier paper “Dilations,…” can be quickly  fixed by throwing in a “non-singularity” assumption, and we posted a corrected version on the arxiv. (The results of Section 6 there do not affect the rest of the results in the paper, and are somewhat not in the direction of the main parts of that paper).

In the current paper, Ben and I take a closer look at the non-singularity assumption that was introduced in the corrected version of “Dilations,…”, and we give a complete characterization of non-singular tuples of compacts. This characterization involves the various kinds of extreme points of the matrix range \mathcal{W}(A). We also make a serious invetigation into fully compressed tuples defined above. We find that a matrix tuple is fully compressed if and only if it is non-singular and minimal. Consequently, we get a clean statement of the classification theorem for compacts: if two tuples A and B of compacts are fully compressed, then they are unitarily equivalent if and only if \mathcal{W}(A) = \mathcal{W}(B).