Abstract:
The (4k+2)-dimensional Kervaire manifold is a closed, piecewise linear (PL) manifold with Kervaire invariant 1 and the same homology as the product of two (2k+1)-dimensional spheres. We show that a finite group of odd order acts freely on a Kervaire manifold if and only if it acts freely on the corresponding product of spheres. If the Kervaire manifold M is smoothable, then each smooth structure on M admits a free smooth involution. If k + 1 is not a 2-power, then the Kervaire manifold in dimension 4k+2 does not admit any free TOP involutions. Free "exotic" (PL) involutions are constructed on the Kervaire manifolds of dimensions 30, 62, and 126. Each smooth structure on the 30-dimensional Kervaire manifold admits a free Z/2 x Z/2 action.

Abstract:
We produce infinite families of exotic actions of finite cyclic groups on simply connected smooth 4-manifolds with nontrivial Seiberg-Witten invariants.

Abstract:
Let G be a subgroup of finite index in SL(n,Z) for N > 4. Suppose G acts continuously on a manifold M, with fundamental group Z^n, preserving a measure that is positive on open sets. Further assume that the induced G action on H^1(M) is non-trivial. We show there exists a finite index subgroup G' of G and a G' equivariant continuous map from M to the n-torus that induces an isomorphism on fundamental groups. We prove more general results providing continuous quotients in cases where the fundamental group of M surjects onto a finitely generated torsion free nilpotent group. We also give some new examples of manifolds with G actions to which the theorems apply.

Abstract:
A survey of finite group actions on symplectic 4-manifolds is given with a special emphasis on results and questions concerning smooth or symplectic classification of group actions, group actions and exotic smooth structures, and homological rigidity and boundedness of group actions. We also take this opportunity to include several results and questions which did not appear elsewhere.

Abstract:
Almost 50 years of work on group actions and the geometric topology of 4-manifolds, from the 1960's to the present, from knotted fixed point sets to Seiberg-Witten invariants, is surveyed. Locally linear actions are emphasized, but differentiable and purely topological actions are also discussed. The presentation is organized around some of the fundamental general questions that have driven the subject of compact transformation groups over the years and their interpretations in the case of 4-manifolds. Many open problems are formulated. Updates to previous problems sets are given. A substantial bibliography is included.

Abstract:
There are known infinite families of Brieskorn homology 3-spheres which can be realized as boundaries of smooth contractible 4-manifolds. In this paper we show that free periodic actions on these Brieskorn spheres do not extend smoothly over a contractible 4-manifold. We give a new infinite family of examples in which the actions extend locally linearly but not smoothly.

Abstract:
Let $X$ be a compact smooth manifold, possibly with boundary. Denote by $X_1,\dots,X_r$ the connected components of $X$. Assume that the integral cohomology of $X$ is torsion free and supported in even degrees. We prove that there exists a constant $C$ such that any finite group $G$ acting smoothly and effectively on $X$ has an abelian subgroup $A$ of index at most $C$, which can be generated by at most $\sum_i[\dim X_i/2]$ elements, and which satisfies $\chi(X_i^A)=\chi(X_i)$ for every $i$. This proves, for all such manifolds $X$, a conjecture of \'Etienne Ghys. An essential ingredient of the proof is a result on finite groups by Alexandre Turull and the author which uses the classification of finite simple groups.

Abstract:
We classify all connected $n$-dimensional complex manifolds admitting an effective action of the unitary group $U_n$ by biholomorphic transformations. One consequence of this classification is a characterization of ${\bf C}^n$ by its automorphism group.

Abstract:
We apply an equivariant version of Perelman's Ricci flow with surgery to study smooth actions by finite groups on closed 3-manifolds. Our main result is that such actions on elliptic and hyperbolic 3-manifolds are conjugate to isometric actions. Combining our results with results by Meeks and Scott [17], it follows that such actions on geometric 3-manifolds (in the sense of Thurston) are always geometric, i.e. there exist invariant locally homogeneous Riemannian metrics. This answers a question posed by Thurston in [32].

Abstract:
We prove that if $X$ is a compact, oriented, connected $4$-dimensional smooth manifold, possibly with boundary, satisfying $\chi(X)\neq 0$, then there exists an integer $C\geq 1$ such that any finite group $G$ acting smoothly and effectively on $X$ has an abelian subgroup $A$ satisfying $[G:A]\leq C$, $\chi(X^A)=\chi(X)$, and $A$ can be generated by at most $2$ elements. Furthermore, if $\chi(X)<0$ then $A$ is cyclic. This proves, for any such $X$, a conjecture of Ghys. We also prove an analogous result for manifolds of arbitrary dimension and non-vanishing Euler characteristic, but restricted to pseudofree actions.