Algebra/Topology Seminar

Speaker: Sam Payne (University of Texas at Austin)

Title: Tropical curves, graph homology, and top weight cohomology of M_g

Abstract:  I will discuss the topology of a space of stable tropical curves of genus g with volume 1. The reduced rational homology of this space is canonically identified with the top weight cohomology of M_g and also with the homology of Kontsevich's graph complex. As one application, we show that H^{4g-6}(M_g) is nonzero for infinitely many g. This disproves a recent conjecture of Church, Farb, and Putman as well as an older, more general conjecture of Kontsevich. We also give an independent proof of a recent theorem of Willwacher, that homology of the graph complex vanishes in negative degrees, using the identifications above and known vanishing results for M_g.  Joint work with M. Chan and S. Galatius.