Rutgers Discrete Mathematics Seminar

Title: Higher order Fourier analysis

Speaker: Balazs Szegedy, U. of Toronto

Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 2:00pm

Location: Hill Center, Room 425, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


In a famous paper Timothy Gowers introduced a sequence of norms U(k) defined for functions on abelian groups. He used these norms to give quantitative bounds for Szemeredi's theorem on arithmetic progressions. The behavior of the U(2) norm is closely tied to Fourier analysis. In this talk we present a generalization of Fourier analysis (called k-th order Fourier analysis) that is related in a similar way to the U(k+1) norm. Ordinary Fourier analysis deals with homomorphisms of abelian groups into the circle group. We view k-th order Fourier analysis as a theory which deals with morphisms of abelian groups into algebraic structures that we call "k-step nilspaces". These structeres are variants of structures introduced by Host and Kra (called parallelepiped structures) and they are close relatives of nil-manifolds. Our approach has two components. One is an uderlying algebraic theory of nilspaces and the other is a variant of ergodic theory on ultra product groups. Using this theory, we obtain inverse theorems for the U(k) norms on arbitrary abelian groups that generalize results by Green, Tao and Ziegler. As a byproduct we also obtain an interesting limit theory for functions on abelian groups in the spirit of the recently developed graph limit theory.