Abstract:
We study the class N of graphs, the right-angled Artin groups defined on which do not contain surface subgroups. We prove that a presumably smaller class N' is closed under amalgamating along complete subgraphs, and also under adding bisimplicial edges. It follows that chordal graphs and chordal bipartite graphs belong to N'.

Abstract:
A graph product kernel means the kernel of the natural surjection from a graph product to the corresponding direct product. We prove that a graph product kernel of countable groups is special, and a graph product of finite or cyclic groups is virtually cocompact special in the sense of Haglund and Wise. The proof of this yields conditions for a graph over which the graph product of arbitrary nontrivial groups (or some cyclic groups, or some finite groups) contains a hyperbolic surface group. In particular, the graph product of arbitrary nontrivial groups over a cycle of length at least five, or over its opposite graph, contains a hyperbolic surface group. For the case when the defining graphs have at most seven vertices, we completely characterize right-angled Coxeter groups with hyperbolic surface subgroups.

Abstract:
We define an operation on finite graphs, called co-contraction. By showing that co-contraction of a graph induces an injective map between right-angled Artin groups, we exhibit a family of graphs, without any induced cycle of length at least 5, such that the right-angled Artin groups on those graphs contain hyperbolic surface groups. This gives the negative answer to a question raised by Gordon, Long and Reid.

Abstract:
Gordon and Wilton recently proved that the double D of a free group F amalgamated along a cyclic subgroup C of F contains a surface group if a generator w of C satisfies a certain 3-manifold theoretic condition, called virtually geometricity. Wilton and the author defined the polygonality of w which also guarantees the existence of a surface group in D. In this paper, virtual geometricity is shown to imply polygonality up to descending to a finite-index subgroup F' and applying an automorphism on F'. That the converse does not hold will follow from an example formerly considered by Manning.

Abstract:
For every orientable surface of finite negative Euler characteristic, we find a right-angled Artin group of cohomological dimension two which does not embed into the associated mapping class group. For a right-angled Artin group on a graph $\gam$ to embed into the mapping class group of a surface $S$, we show that the chromatic number of $\gam$ cannot exceed the chromatic number of the clique graph of the curve graph $\mathcal{C}(S)$. Thus, the chromatic number of $\gam$ is a global obstruction to embedding the right-angled Artin group $A(\gam)$ into the mapping class group $\Mod(S)$.

Abstract:
Let $C(L)$ be the right-angled Coxeter group defined by an abstract triangulation $L$ of $\mathbb{S}^2$. We show that $C(L)$ is isomorphic to a hyperbolic right-angled reflection group if and only if $L$ can be realized as an acute triangulation. The proof relies on the theory of CAT(-1) spaces. A corollary is that an abstract triangulation of $\mathbb{S}^2$ can be realized as an acute triangulation exactly when it satisfies a combinatorial condition called "flag no-square". We also study generalizations of this result to other angle bounds, other planar surfaces and other dimensions.

Abstract:
We prove that an arbitrary right-angled Artin group $G$ admits a quasi-isometric group embedding into a right-angled Artin group defined by the opposite graph of a tree. Consequently, $G$ admits quasi-isometric group embeddings into a pure braid group and into the area-preserving diffeomorphism groups of the 2--disk and the 2--sphere, answering questions due to Crisp--Wiest and M. Kapovich. Another corollary is that a pure braid group contains a closed hyperbolic manifold group as a quasi-isometrically embedded subgroup up to dimension eight. Finally, we show that the isomorphism problem, conjugacy problem, and membership problems are unsolvable in the class of finitely presented subgroups of braid groups.

Abstract:
A longstanding question of Gromov asks whether every one-ended word-hyperbolic group contains a subgroup isomorphic to the fundamental group of a closed hyperbolic surface. An infinite family of word-hyperbolic groups can be obtained by taking doubles of free groups amalgamated along words that are not proper powers. We define a set of polygonal words in a free group of finite rank, and prove that polygonality of the amalgamating word guarantees that the associated square complex virtually contains a $\pi_1$-injective closed surface. We provide many concrete examples of classes of polygonal words. For instance, in the case when the rank is 2, we establish polygonality of words without an isolated generator, and also of almost all simple height 1 words, including Baumslag--Solitar relator $a^p (a^q)^b$ for $pq\ne0$.

Abstract:
We develop an analogy between right-angled Artin groups and mapping class groups through the geometry of their actions on the extension graph and the curve graph respectively. The central result in this paper is the fact that each right-angled Artin group acts acylindrically on its extension graph. From this result we are able to develop a Nielsen--Thurston classification for elements in the right-angled Artin group. Our analogy spans both the algebra regarding subgroups of right-angled Artin groups and mapping class groups, as well as the geometry of the extension graph and the curve graph. On the geometric side, we establish an analogue of Masur and Minsky's Bounded Geodesic Image Theorem and their distance formula.

Abstract:
We show that for a sufficiently simple surface $S$, a right-angled Artin group $A(\Gamma)$ embeds into $\Mod(S)$ if and only if $\Gamma$ embeds into the curve graph $\mC(S)$ as an induced subgraph. When $S$ is sufficiently complicated, there exists an embedding $A(\Gamma)\to\Mod(S)$ for some $\Gamma$ not contained in $\mC(S)$.