Tag Archives: incompetence

Traces and commutators

The following is a true (and well-known) theorem: \(\newcommand{\Tr}{\mathop{\rm Tr}}\)

Suppose \(A\) and \(B\) are bounded operators on a Hilbert space, and \(AB\) and \(BA\) are trace class.  Then \( \Tr(AB)=\Tr(BA) \).

This is easy to prove if one of the operators \(A,B\) is itself of trace class, or if they both are Hilbert-Schmidt (the obvious calculation works).  In the general case it is a bit harder.  The “usual” argument proceeds via Lidskii’s trace theorem – the trace of any trace-class operator is the sum of the eigenvalues – together with the purely algebraic fact that the nonzero eigenvalues of \(AB\) and \(BA\) are the same (including multiplicities).  Continue reading

A correction to EOTAM

In my book Elliptic operators, topology and asymptotic methods (both the first and the second editions) I give a discussion of the representation theory of the groups Spin and Pin which was based (as far as I can now remember) on some notes that I took when I attended Adams’ famous course on the exceptional Lie groups, as a Part III student in 1981.  I no longer seem to have those, unfortunately (although meanwhile a version of Adams’ own notes on his approach has been published by University of Chicago Press).  Meanwhile, in 2010 Darij Grinberg pointed out on Math Overflow that the argument I gave was garbled: see this link.  In this post I want to explain what is garbled and how the useful part of the argument can be recovered.  Continue reading

Thinking about “maximal Roe algebras”

One of the things that has happened in coarse geometry while I was busy being department chair is a bunch of papers about “maximal Roe algebras” (some references at the end). Of course these are objects that I feel I ought to understand, so I spent some time trying to figure out the basics.

Let \(X\) be a bounded geometry uniformly discrete metric space.  (Something like bounded geometry seems to be necessary, for a reason that I’ll explain below.)  We know how to form the translation algebra \( {\mathbb C}[X] \) (the *-algebra of finite-propagation matrices on \(X\) ), and this has an obvious representation (the regular representation) on \(\ell^2(X)\).  Then the usual version of the (uniform) Roe algebra is just the C*-algebra obtained by completing \({\mathbb C}[X]\) in this representation.  Because it involves only the regular representation we may call this the reduced Roe algebra (in analogy to the group case). Continue reading

The Peter Principle Revisited

Not really “coarse mathematics” in the sense I initially intended, but feels rather relevant to the work of a department head.   This paper uses a simulation to demonstrate that, under certain hypotheses, a “hierarchical” organization will function more efficiently by promoting people at random than by always promoting those who are most competent in their current position.