Galois representations from pre-image trees: an arboreal survey. (English) Zbl 1307.11069

Actes de la conférence “Théorie des nombres et applications”. Besançon: Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté (ISBN 978-2-84867-472-8/pbk). Publications Mathématiques de Besançon. Algèbre et Théorie des Nombres 2013, 107-136 (2013).
Author’s abstract: Given a global field \(K\) and a rational function \(\phi \in K(x)\), one may take pre-images of \(0\) under successive iterates of \(\phi\), and thus obtain an infinite rooted tree \(T_\infty\) by assigning edges according to the action of \(\phi\). The absolute Galois group of \(K\) acts on \(T_\infty\) by tree automorphisms, giving a subgroup \(G_\infty (\phi)\) of the group \(\mathrm{Aut}(T_\infty )\) of all tree automorphisms. Beginning in the 1980s with work of R. W. K. Odoni [Proc. Lond. Math. Soc. (3) 51, 385–414 (1985; Zbl 0622.12011); J. Lond. Math. Soc., II. Ser. 32, 1–11 (1985; Zbl 0574.10020); Mathematika 35, No. 1, 101–113 (1988; Zbl 0662.12010)], and developing especially over the past decade, a significant body of work has emerged on the size and structure of this Galois representation. These inquiries arose in part because knowledge of \(G_\infty (\phi)\) allows one to prove density results on the set of primes of \(K\) that divide at least one element of a given orbit of \(\phi\).
Following an overview of the history of the subject and two of its fundamental questions, we survey in Section 2 cases where \(G_\infty (\phi)\) is known to have finite index in \(\mathrm{Aut}(T_\infty )\). While it is tempting to conjecture that such behavior should hold in general, we exhibit in Section 3 four classes of rational functions where it does not, illustrating the difficulties in formulating the proper conjecture. Fortunately, one can achieve the aforementioned density results with comparatively little information about \(G_\infty (\phi)\), thanks in part to a surprising application of probability theory, as we discuss in Section 4. Underlying all of this analysis are results on the factorization into irreducibles of the numerators of iterates of \(\phi\), which we survey briefly in Section 5. We find that for each of these matters, the arithmetic of the forward orbits of the critical points of \(\phi\) proves decisive, just as the topology of these orbits is decisive in complex dynamics.
For the entire collection see [Zbl 1282.11004].


11F80 Galois representations
11R32 Galois theory
37P15 Dynamical systems over global ground fields
11-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to number theory
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