Smith Colloquium

March 7, 2019

Piotr M. Hajac (Polish Academy of Sciences)

Title: Operator algebras that one can see

Abstract: Operator algebras are the language of quantum mechanics just as much as differential geometry is the language of general relativity. Reconciling these two fundamental theories of physics is one of the biggest scientific dreams. It is a driving force behind efforts to geometrize operator algebras and to quantize differential geometry. One of these endeavors is noncommutatvive geometry, whose starting point is natural equivalence between commutative operator algebras (C*-algebras) and locally compact Hausdorff spaces. Thus noncommutative C*-algebras are thought of as quantum topological spaces, and are researched from this perspective. However, such C*-algebras can enjoy features impossible for commutative C*-algebras, forcing one to abandon the algebraic-topology based intuition. Nevertheless, there is a class of operator algebras for which one can develop new ("quantum") intuition. These are graph algebras, C*-algebras determined by oriented graphs (quivers). Due to their tangible hands-on nature, graphs are extremely efficient in unraveling the structure and K-theory of graph algebras. We will exemplify this phenomenon by showing a CW-complex structure of the Vaksman-Soibelman quantum complex projective spaces, and how it explains their K-theory.