*Decision problems, non-positive curvature, and profinite completions*

Martin Bridson

This mini-course will begin with a discussion of the classical
decision problems in group theory and topology, including an account of
the different roles played by non-positive curvature. We shall then turn
our attention to profinite completions of groups, maintaining an accent
on both decision problems and non-positive curvature.

I shall discuss how ideas central to recent developments concerning cube
complexes and 3-manifolds lead to progress on three clusters of problems:

1. How complicated can the subgroups of mapping class groups be?

2. Which properties of discrete groups are invariants of their profinite
and pro-nilpotent completions?

3. The profinite triviality problem (which has many consequences): given
a finite group-presentation, can one determine if the group presented
has a non-trivial finite quotient or not?
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