Geometry & Topology

Embedability between right-angled Artin groups

Sang-hyun Kim and Thomas Koberda

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In this article we study the right-angled Artin subgroups of a given right-angled Artin group. Starting with a graph Γ, we produce a new graph through a purely combinatorial procedure, and call it the extension graph Γe of Γ. We produce a second graph Γke, the clique graph of Γe, by adding an extra vertex for each complete subgraph of Γe. We prove that each finite induced subgraph Λ of Γe gives rise to an inclusion A(Λ)A(Γ). Conversely, we show that if there is an inclusion A(Λ)A(Γ) then Λ is an induced subgraph of Γke. These results have a number of corollaries. Let P4 denote the path on four vertices and let Cn denote the cycle of length n. We prove that A(P4) embeds in A(Γ) if and only if P4 is an induced subgraph of Γ. We prove that if F is any finite forest then A(F) embeds in A(P4). We recover the first author’s result on co-contraction of graphs, and prove that if Γ has no triangles and A(Γ) contains a copy of A(Cn) for some n5, then Γ contains a copy of Cm for some 5mn. We also recover Kambites’ Theorem, which asserts that if A(C4) embeds in A(Γ) then Γ contains an induced square. We show that whenever Γ is triangle-free and A(Λ)<A(Γ) then there is an undistorted copy of A(Λ) in A(Γ). Finally, we determine precisely when there is an inclusion A(Cm)A(Cn) and show that there is no “universal” two–dimensional right-angled Artin group.

Article information

Geom. Topol., Volume 17, Number 1 (2013), 493-530.

Received: 20 March 2012
Accepted: 20 November 2012
First available in Project Euclid: 20 December 2017

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Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 20F36: Braid groups; Artin groups

right-angled Artin group mapping class group surface group co-contraction


Kim, Sang-hyun; Koberda, Thomas. Embedability between right-angled Artin groups. Geom. Topol. 17 (2013), no. 1, 493--530. doi:10.2140/gt.2013.17.493.

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