Free subalgebras of graded algebras, infinite words, and Golod-Shafarevich algeras

Wed, 05/04/2017 - 10:30

The famous Koethe conjecture asserts that the sum of two nil left ideals is always nil. This still open problem, which is sometimes considered the central open problem in ring theory, has attracted many researchers and inspired a flurry of results toward a better understanding of its validity.


Its most popular equivalent formulation nowadays is, that the polynomial ring R[x] over a nil ring R is equal to its own Jacobson radical.

The observation that R[x] is naturally graded, and every homogeneous element is nilpotent (i.e. R[x] is "graded nil") motivated L. Small and E. Zelmanov to ask ('06) whether a graded nil algebra is always Jaocbson radical.

This was disproved by A. Smoktunowicz a few years ago, and should be mentioned together with another result by Smoktunowicz, disproving a conjecture of L. Makar-Limanov: she proved that there exists a nil ring R such that after tensoring with central variables (specifically: R[x_1,...,x_6]) it contains a free subalgebra. Such ring can exist only over countable base fields.


In this talk we present a new construction, which provides a monomial, graded nilpotent ring (a stronger property than graded nil) which contains a free subalgebra. Our methods involve combinatorics of infinite words, and gluing together sequences of letters which arise from appropriate morphisms of free monoids. In particular, this resolves Small-Zelmanov's question and can be thought of as a continuation of Smoktunowicz's counterexample to Makar-Limanov's conjecture (as in our construction the base field can be arbitrary).


We also construct finitely generated graded Golod-Shafarevich algebras in which all homogeneous elements are nilpotent of bounded index, and prove that such phenomenon cannot appear in monomial algebras. This example also indicates the lack of a graded version for the Shirshov height theorem.


The talk is based on joint work with Jason P. Bell.