Abstract:
We show that for a locally free action of a simply connected nilpotent Lie group on a compact manifold, if every real valued cocycle is cohomologous to a constant cocycle, then the action is parameter rigid. The converse is true if the action has a dense orbit. Using this, we construct parameter rigid actions of simply connected nilpotent Lie groups whose Lie algebras admit rational structures with graduations. This generalizes the results of dos Santos concerning the Heisenberg groups.

Abstract:
We develop a theory of convex cocompact subgroups of the mapping class group MCG of a closed, oriented surface S of genus at least 2, in terms of the action on Teichmuller space. Given a subgroup G of MCG defining an extension L_G: 1--> pi_1(S) --> L_G --> G -->1 we prove that if L_G is a word hyperbolic group then G is a convex cocompact subgroup of MCG. When G is free and convex cocompact, called a "Schottky subgroup" of MCG, the converse is true as well; a semidirect product of pi_1(S) by a free group G is therefore word hyperbolic if and only if G is a Schottky subgroup of MCG. The special case when G=Z follows from Thurston's hyperbolization theorem. Schottky subgroups exist in abundance: sufficiently high powers of any independent set of pseudo-Anosov mapping classes freely generate a Schottky subgroup.

Abstract:
Call a finitely generated subgroup $\Gamma$ of $\mathrm{Out}(F_n)$ convex cocompact if its orbit map into the free factor graph is a quasi-isometric embedding. We develop a characterization of convex cocompact subgroups of $\mathrm{Out}(F_n)$ via their action on Outer space similar to one of convex cocompact subgroups of mapping class groups.

Abstract:
Let $\Gamma$ be a dense subgroup of a simply connected nilpotent Lie group $G$ generated by a finite symmetric set $S$. We consider the $n$-ball $S_n$ for the word metric induced by $S$ on $\Gamma$. We show that $S_n$ (with uniform measure) becomes equidistributed on $G$ with respect to the Haar measure as n tends to infinity. We give rates and also prove the analogous result for random walk averages (i.e. the local limit theorem).

Abstract:
Let G be a reductive group acting on an affine variety X, let x in X be a point whose G-orbit is not closed, and let S be a G-stable closed subvariety of X which meets the closure of the G-orbit of x but does not contain x. In this paper, we study G.R. Kempf's optimal class Omega_G(x,S) of cocharacters of G attached to the point x; in particular, we consider how this optimality transfers to subgroups of G. Suppose K is a G-completely reducible subgroup of G which fixes x, and let H = C_G(K)^0. Our main result says that the H-orbit of x is also not closed, and the optimal class Omega_H(x,S) for H simply consists of the cocharacters in Omega_G(x,S) which evaluate in H. We apply this result in the case that G acts on its Lie algebra via the adjoint representation to obtain some new information about cocharacters associated with nilpotent elements in good characteristic.

Abstract:
For any $N \geq 5$ nonformal simply connected symplectic manifolds of dimension $2N$ are constructed. This disproves the formality conjecture for simply connected symplectic manifolds which was introduced by Lupton and Oprea.

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is: (i) to construct a space which is semilocally simply connected in the sense of Spanier even though its Spanier group is non-trivial; (ii) to propose a modification of the notion of a Spanier group so that via the modified Spanier group semilocal simple connectivity can be characterized; and (iii) to point out that with just a slightly modified definition of semilocal simple connectivity which is sometimes also used in literature, the classical Spanier group gives the correct characterization within the general class of path-connected topological spaces. While the condition "semilocally simply connected" plays a crucial role in classical covering theory, in generalized covering theory one needs to consider the condition "homotopically Hausdorff" instead. The paper also discusses which implications hold between all of the abovementioned conditions and, via the modified Spanier groups, it also unveils the weakest so far known algebraic characterization for the existence of generalized covering spaces as introduced by Fischer and Zastrow. For most of the implications, the paper also proves the non-reversibility by providing the corresponding examples. Some of them rely on spaces that are newly constructed in this paper.

Abstract:
The discrete cocompact subgroups of the 5-dimensional Lie group G_53 are determined up to isomorphism. Each of their group C*-algebras is studied by determining all of its simple infinite dimensional quotient C*-algebras. The K-groups and trace invariants of the latter are also obtained.