On the complexity of conjugacy in amalgamated products and HNN extensions

by Armin Weiß

Institution: University of Stuttgart
Department: Fakultät Informatik, Elektrotechnik und Informationstechnik
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Record ID: 1098812
Full text PDF: http://elib.uni-stuttgart.de/opus/volltexte/2015/10018/


This thesis deals with the conjugacy problem in classes of groups which can be written as HNN extension or amalgamated product. The conjugacy problem is one of the fundamental problems in algorithmic group theory which were introduced by Max Dehn in 1911. It poses the question whether two group elements given as words over a fixed set of generators are conjugate. Thus, it is a generalization of the word problem, which asks whether some input word represents the identity. Both, word and conjugacy problem, are undecidable in general. In this thesis, we consider not only decidability, but also complexity of conjugacy. We consider fundamental groups of finite graphs of groups as defined by Serre - a generalization of both HNN extensions and amalgamated products. Another crucial concept for us are strongly generic algorithms - a formalization of algorithms which work for "most" inputs. The following are our main results: The elements of an HNN extension which cannot be conjugated into the base group form a strongly generic set if and only if both inclusions of the associated subgroup into the base group are not surjective. For amalgamated products we prove an analogous result. Following a construction by Stillwell, we derive some undecidability results for the conjugacy problem in HNN extensions with free (abelian) base groups. Next, we show that conjugacy is decidable if all associated subgroups are cyclic or if the base group is abelian and there is only one stable letter. Moreover, in a fundamental group of a graph of groups with free abelian vertex groups, conjugacy is strongly generically in P. Moreover, we consider the case where all edge groups are finite: If conjugacy can be decided in time T(N) in the vertex groups, then it can be decided in time O(log N * T(N)) in the fundamental group under some reasonable assumptions on T (here, N is the length of the input). We also derive some basic transfer results for circuit complexity in the same class of groups. Furthermore, we examine the conjugacy problem of generalized Baumslag-Solitar groups. Our main results are: the conjugacy problem in solvable Baumslag-Solitar groups is TC0-complete, and in arbitrary generalized Baumslag-Solitar groups it can be decided in LOGDCFL. The uniform conjugacy problem for generalized Baumslag-Solitar groups is hard for EXPSPACE. Finally, we deal with the conjugacy problem in the Baumslag group, an HNN extension of the Baumslag-Solitar group BS12. The Baumslag group has a non-elementary Dehn function, and thus, for a long time, it was considered to have a very hard word problem, until Miaskikov, Ushakov, and Won showed that the word problem, indeed, is in P by introducing a new data structure, the so-called power circuits. We follow their approach and show that the conjugacy problem is strongly generically in P. We conjecture that there is no polynomial time algorithm which works for all inputs, because the divisibility problem in power circuits can be reduced to this conjugacy problem. Also, we prove that the comparison…