Abstract:
We describe a class $\mathcal{C}$ of punctured torus bundles such that, for each $M \in \mathcal{C}$, all but finitely many Dehn fillings on $M$ are virtually Haken. We show that $\mathcal{C}$ contains infinitely many commensurability classes, and we give evidence that $\mathcal{C}$ includes representatives of ``most'' commensurability classes of punctured torus bundles. In particular, we define an integer-valued complexity function on monodromies $f$ (essentially the length of the LR-factorization of $f_*$ in $PSL_2(\mathbb{Z})$), and use a computer to show that if the monodromy of $M$ has complexity at most 5, then $M$ is finitely covered by an element of $\mathcal{C}$. If the monodromy has complexity at most 12, then, with at most 36 exceptions, $M$ is finitely covered by an element of $\mathcal{C}$. We also give a method for computing ``algebraic boundary slopes'' in certain finite covers of punctured torus bundles.

Abstract:
We use Heegaard splittings to give a criterion for a tunnel number one knot manifold to be non-fibered and to have large cyclic covers. We also show that such a knot manifold (satisfying the criterion) admits infinitely many virtually Haken Dehn fillings. Using a computer, we apply this criterion to the 2 generator, non-fibered knot manifolds in the cusped Snappea census. For each such manifold M, we compute a number c(M), such that, for any n>c(M), the n-fold cyclic cover of M is large.

Abstract:
We prove that an infinite family of virtually overtwisted tight contact structures discovered by Honda on certain circle bundles over surfaces admit no symplectic semi-fillings. The argument uses results of Mrowka, Ozsvath and Yu on the translation-invariant solutions to the Seiberg-Witten equations on cylinders and the non-triviality of the Kronheimer-Mrowka monopole invariants of symplectic fillings.

Abstract:
We examine three key conjectures in 3-manifold theory: the virtually Haken conjecture, the positive virtual b_1 conjecture and the virtually fibred conjecture. We explore the interaction of these conjectures with the following seemingly unrelated areas: eigenvalues of the Laplacian, and Heegaard splittings. We first give a necessary and sufficient condition, in terms of spectral geometry, for a finitely presented group to have a finite index subgroup with infinite abelianisation. For negatively curved 3-manifolds, we show that this is equivalent to a statement about generalised Heegaard splittings. We also formulate a conjecture about the behaviour of Heegaard genus under finite covers which, together with a conjecture of Lubotzky and Sarnak about Property tau, would imply the virtually Haken conjecture for hyperbolic 3-manifolds. Along the way, we prove a number of unexpected theorems about 3-manifolds. For example, we show that for any closed 3-manifold that fibres over the circle with pseudo-Anosov monodromy, any cyclic cover dual to the fibre of sufficiently large degree has an irreducible, weakly reducible Heegaard splitting. Also, we establish lower and upper bounds on the Heegaard genus of the congruence covers of an arithmetic hyperbolic 3-manifold, which are linear in volume.

Abstract:
We prove that cubulated hyperbolic groups are virtually special. The proof relies on results of Haglund and Wise which also imply that they are linear groups, and quasi-convex subgroups are separable. A consequence is that closed hyperbolic 3-manifolds have finite-sheeted Haken covers, which resolves the virtual Haken question of Waldhausen and Thurston's virtual fibering question. An appendix to this paper by Agol, Groves, and Manning proves a generalization of the main result of "Residual finiteness, QCERF and fillings of hyperbolic groups".

Abstract:
In this paper, we give infinitely many non-Haken hyperbolic genus three 3-manifolds each of which has a finite cover whose induced Heegaard surface from some genus three Heegaard surface of the base manifold is reducible but can be compressed into an incompressible surface. This result supplements [CG] and extends [MMZ].

Abstract:
We consider a large family F of torus bundles over the circle, and we use recent work of Li--Mak to construct, on each Y in F, a Stein fillable contact structure C. We prove that (i) each Stein filling of (Y,C) has vanishing first Chern class and first Betti number, (ii) if Y in F is elliptic then all Stein fillings of (Y,C) are pairwise diffeomorphic and (iii) if Y in F is parabolic or hyperbolic then all Stein fillings of (Y,C) share the same Betti numbers and fall into finitely many diffeomorphism classes. Moreover, for infinitely many hyperbolic torus bundles Y in F we exhibit non-homotopy equivalent Stein fillings of (Y,C).

Abstract:
We study the topology of exact and Stein fillings of the canonical contact structure on the unit cotangent bundle of a closed surface $\Sigma_g$, where $g$ is at least 2. In particular, we prove a uniqueness theorem asserting that any Stein filling must be s-cobordant rel boundary to the disk cotangent bundle of $\Sigma_g$. For exact fillings, we show that the rational homology agrees with that of the disk cotangent bundle, and that the integral homology takes on finitely many possible values: for example, if $g-1$ is square-free, then any exact filling has the same integral homology and intersection form as $DT^*\Sigma_g$.

Abstract:
A 3-manifold is Haken if it contains a topologically essential surface. The Virtual Haken Conjecture says that every irreducible 3-manifold with infinite fundamental group has a finite cover which is Haken. Here, we discuss two interrelated topics concerning this conjecture. First, we describe computer experiments which give strong evidence that the Virtual Haken Conjecture is true for hyperbolic 3-manifolds. We took the complete Hodgson-Weeks census of 10,986 small-volume closed hyperbolic 3-manifolds, and for each of them found finite covers which are Haken. There are interesting and unexplained patterns in the data which may lead to a better understanding of this problem. Second, we discuss a method for transferring the virtual Haken property under Dehn filling. In particular, we show that if a 3-manifold with torus boundary has a Seifert fibered Dehn filling with hyperbolic base orbifold, then most of the Dehn filled manifolds are virtually Haken. We use this to show that every non-trivial Dehn surgery on the figure-8 knot is virtually Haken.