Exploring algebraic rigidity in mapping class groups

Nicholas Vlamis (CUNY)

Abstract: A classical theorem of Powell (with roots in the work of Mumford and Birman) states that the pure mapping class group of a connected, orientable, finite-type surface of genus at least 3 is perfect, that is, it has trivial abelianization. We will discuss how this fails for infinite-genus surfaces and give a complete characterization of all homomorphisms from pure mapping class groups of infinite-genus surfaces to the integers. This characterization yields a direct connection between algebraic invariants of pure mapping class groups and topological invariants of the underlying surface. This is joint work with Javier Aramayona and Priyam Patel.