Noncommutative Analysis

Category: Operator theory

New paper: "On the matrix range of random matrices"

Malte Gerhold and I recently posted our new paper “On the matrix range of random matrices” on the arxiv, and I want to write a few words about it.

Recall that the matrix range of a d-tuple of operators A = (A_1, \ldots, A_d) \in B(H)^d is the noncommutative set W(A) = \cup_n W_n(A), where

W_n(A) = \{ (\phi(A_1), \ldots, \phi(A_d)) : \phi : B(H) \to M_n is UCP \}.

The matrix range appeared in several recent papers of mine (for example this one), it is a complete invariant for the unital operator space generated by A_1 \ldots, A_d, and is within some classes is also a unitary invariant.

The idea for this paper came from my recent (last couple of years or so) flirt with numerical experiments. It has dawned on me that choosing matrices randomly from some ensembles, for example by setting

G = randn(N);

X = (G + G')/sqrt(2*N);

(this is the GOE ensemble) is a rather bad way for testing “classical” conjectures in mathematics, such as what is the best constant for some inequality. Rather, as N increases, random N \times N behave in a very “structured” way (as least in some sense). So we were driven to try to understand, roughly what kind of operator theoretic phenomena do we tend to observe when choosing random matrices.

The above paragraph is a confession of the origin of our motive, but at the end of the day we ask and answer honest mathematical questions with theorems and proofs. If X^N = (X^N_1, \ldots, X^N_d) is a d-tuple of N \times N matrices picked at random according to the Matlab code above, then experience with the law of large numbers, the central limit theorem, and Wigner’s semicircle law, suggests that W(X^N) will “converge” to something. And by experience with free probability theory, if it converges to something, then is should be the matrix range of the free semicircular tuple. We find that this is indeed what happens.

Theorem: Let X^N be as above, and let s = (s_1, \ldots, s_d) be a semicircular family. Then for all n,

\lim_{N \to \infty} d_H(W_n(X^N),W(s)) = 0 almost surely

in the Hausdorff metric.

The semicircular tuple s = (s_1, \ldots, s_d) is a certain d-tuple of operators that can be explicitly described (see our paper, for example).

We make heavy use of some fantastic results in free probability and random matrix theory, and our contribution boils down to finding the way to use existing results in order to understand what happens at the level of matrix ranges. This involves studying the continuity of matrix ranges for continuous fields of operators, in particular, we study the relationship between the convergence

(*) \lim_{N \to \infty} \|p(X^N)\| = \|p(X)\|

(which holds for X^N as above and X = s by a result of Haagerup and Torbjornsen) and

(**) \lim_{N \to \infty} d_H(W_n(X^N),W(X)) = 0.

To move from (*) to (**), we needed to devise a certain quantitative Effros-Winkler Hahn-banach type separation theorem for matrix convex sets.

The complex matrix cube problem – new results from summer projects

In this post I will summarize the results obtained by my group in the “Summer Projects Week” that took place two weeks ago at the Technion. As in last time (see here for a summary of last year’s project) the title of the project I suggested was “Numerical Explorations of Open Problems from Operator Theory”. This time, I was lucky to have Malte Gerhold and Satish Pandey, my postdocs, volunteer to help me with the mentoring. The students who chose our project were Matan Gibson and Ofer Israelov, and they did fantastic work.

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics in Operator Theory, Lecture 10: hyperrigidity

In this lecture we discuss the notion of hyperrigidity, which was introduced by Arveson in his paper The noncommutative Choquet boundary II: Hyperrigidity, shortly after he proved the existence of boundary representations (and hence the C*-envelope) for separable operator systems. Most of the results and the examples that we will discuss in this lecture come from that paper, and we will certainly not be able to cover everything in that paper. In the last section of this post I will put some links concerning a result of Kennedy and myself which connects hyperrigidity to the Arveson’s essential normality conjecture.

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics in Operator Theory, Lecture 8: matrix convexity

In this lecture we will encounter the notion of matrix convexity. Matrix convexity is an active area of research today, and an important tool in noncommutative analysis. We will define matrix convex sets, and we will see that closed matrix convex sets have matrix extreme points which play a role similar to extreme points in analysis. As an example of a matrix convex set, we will study the set of all matrix states. We will use these notions to outline the proof that there are sufficiently many pure UCP maps, something that was left open from the previous lecture. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Topics in Operator Theory, Lecture 7: boundary representations

In this lecture we will present a proof that boundary representations exist in abundance, following Davidson and Kennedy’s breakthrough paper. Davidson and Kennedy’s paper was in the spirit of Arveson’s paper from 1969, and followed Arveson’s solution in the separable case from 2007. (BTW, I wrote about Davidson and Kennedy’s solution in a an old blog post). 

1. The unique extension property and maximal representations

Recall the definition of a boundary representation. 

Our setting will be of an operator system S contained in a C*-algebra B = C^*(S). Recall that earlier we discussed the situation of a unital operator algebra A \subseteq B = C^*(A), and later we extended our attention to unital operator spaces. In this post we will consider only operator systems, but there will be no loss of generality (because every unital completely contractive map A \mapsto B(H) extends to a unique unital completely positive map S: A + A^* \to B(H), and vice versa). 

Read the rest of this entry »