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Having classified all asymptotic gradient shrinking solitons in three and fewer dimensions in the previous lecture, we now use this classification, combined with extensive use of compactness and contradiction arguments, as well as the comparison geometry of complete Riemannian manifolds of non-negative curvature, to understand the structure of -solutions in these dimensions, with the aim being to state and prove precise versions of Theorem 1 and Corollary 1 from Lecture 12.
The arguments are particularly simple when the asymptotic gradient shrinking soliton is compact; in this case, the rounding theorems of Hamilton show that the -solution is a (time-shifted) round shrinking spherical space form. This already classifies -solutions completely in two dimensions; the only remaining case is the three-dimensional case when the asymptotic gradient soliton is a round shrinking cylinder (or a quotient thereof by an involution). To proceed further, one has to show that the -solution exhibits significant amounts of curvature, and in particular that one does not have bounded normalised curvature at infinity. This curvature (combined with comparison geometry tools such as the Bishop-Gromov inequality) will cause asymptotic volume collapse of the -solution at infinity. These facts lead to the fundamental Perelman compactness theorem for -solutions, which then provides enough geometric control on such solutions that one can establish the structural theorems mentioned earlier.
The treatment here is a (slightly simplified) version of the arguments in Morgan-Tian’s book, which is based in turn on Perelman’s paper and the notes of Kleiner-Lott (see also the paper of Cao-Zhu for a slightly different treatment of this theory).
In previous lectures, we have established (modulo some technical details) two significant components of the proof of the Poincaré conjecture: finite time extinction of Ricci flow with surgery (Theorem 4 of Lecture 2), and a -noncollapsing of Ricci flows with surgery (which, except for the surgery part, is Theorem 2 of Lecture 7). Now we come to the heart of the entire argument: the topological and geometric control of the high curvature regions of a Ricci flow, which is absolutely essential in order for one to define surgery on these regions in order to move the flow past singularities. This control is intimately tied to the study of a special type of Ricci flow, the -solutions to the Ricci flow equation; we will be able to use compactness arguments (as well as the -noncollapsing results already obtained) to deduce control of high curvature regions of arbitrary Ricci flows from similar control of -solutions. A secondary compactness argument lets us obtain that control of -solutions from control of an even more special type of solution, the gradient shrinking solitons that we already encountered in Lecture 8.
[Even once one has this control of high curvature regions, the proof of the Poincaré conjecture is still not finished; there is significant work required to properly define the surgery procedure, and then one has to show that the surgeries do not accumulate in time, and also do not disrupt the various monotonicity formulae that we are using to deduce finite time extinction, -noncollapsing, etc. But the control of high curvature regions is arguably the largest single task one has to establish in the entire proof.]
The next few lectures will be devoted to the analysis of -solutions, culminating in Perelman’s topological and geometric classification (or near-classification) of such solutions (which in particular leads to the canonical neighbourhood theorem for these solutions, which we will briefly discuss below). In this lecture we shall formally define the notion of a -solution, and indicate informally why control of such solutions should lead to control of high curvature regions of Ricci flows. We’ll also outline the various types of results that we will prove about -solutions.
Our treatment here is based primarily on the book of Morgan and Tian.