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A Garside-theoretic approach to the reducibility problem in braid groups. (English) Zbl 1191.20034
Summary: Let $$D_n$$ denote the $$n$$-punctured disk in the complex plane, where the punctures are on the real axis. An $$n$$-braid $$\alpha$$ is said to be ‘reducible’ if there exists an essential curve system $$\mathcal C$$ in $$D_n$$, called a ‘reduction system’ of $$\alpha$$, such that $$\alpha*\mathcal C=\mathcal C$$ where $$\alpha*\mathcal C$$ denotes the action of the braid $$\alpha$$ on the curve system $$\mathcal C$$. A curve system $$\mathcal C$$ in $$D_n$$ is said to be ‘standard’ if each of its components is isotopic to a round circle centered at the real axis.
In this paper, we study the characteristics of the braids sending a curve system to a standard curve system, and then the characteristics of the conjugacy classes of reducible braids. For an essential curve system $$\mathcal C$$ in $$D_n$$, we define the ‘standardizer’ of $$\mathcal C$$ as $$\text{St}(\mathcal C)=\{P\in B_n^+:P*\mathcal C$$ is standard} and show that $$\text{St}(\mathcal C)$$ is a sublattice of $$B_n^+$$. In particular, there exists a unique minimal element in $$\text{St}(\mathcal C)$$. Exploiting the minimal elements of standardizers together with canonical reduction systems of reducible braids, we define the outermost component of reducible braids, and then show that, for the reducible braids whose outermost component is simpler than the whole braid (including split braids), each element of its ultra summit set has a standard reduction system. This implies that, for such braids, finding a reduction system is as easy as finding a single element of the ultra summit set.

##### MSC:
 20F36 Braid groups; Artin groups 20F10 Word problems, other decision problems, connections with logic and automata (group-theoretic aspects) 57M60 Group actions on manifolds and cell complexes in low dimensions 57M25 Knots and links in the $$3$$-sphere (MSC2010) 57M07 Topological methods in group theory
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