In this
series of posts I’ll try to make at least part of the recent
[Kontsevich-Soibelman paper](http://www.arxiv.org/abs/math.RA/0606241) a
bit more accessible to algebraists. In non-geometry, the algebras
corresponding to *smooth affine varieties* I’ll call **qurves** (note
that they are called **quasi-free algebras** by Cuntz & Quillen and
**formally smooth** by Kontsevich). By definition, a qurve in an affine
$\mathbb{C}$-algebra A having the lifting property for algebra
maps through nilpotent ideals (extending Grothendieck’s characterization
of smooth affine algebras in the commutative case). Examples of qurves
are : finite dimensional semi-simple algebras (for example, group
algebras $\mathbb{C} G$ of finite groups), coordinate rings of
smooth affine curves or a noncommutative mixture of both, skew-group
algebras $\mathbb{C}[X] \ast G$ whenever G is a finite group of
automorphisms of the affine curve X. These are Noetherian examples but
in general a qurve is quite far from being Noetherian. More typical
examples of qurves are : free algebras $\mathbb{C} \langle x_1,\ldots,x_k \rangle$ and path algebras of finite quivers
$~\mathbb{C} Q$. Recall that a finite quiver Q s just a
directed graph and its path algebra is the vectorspace spanned by all
directed paths in Q with multiplication induced by concatenation of
paths. Out of these building blocks one readily constructs more
involved qurves via universal algebra operations such as (amalgamated)
free products, universal localizations etc. In this way, the
groupalgebra of the modular group $SL_2(\mathbb{Z})$ (as well
as that of a congruence subgroup) is a qurve and one can mix groups with
finite groupactions on curves to get qurves like $(\mathbb{C}[X] \ast G) \ast_{\mathbb{C} H} \mathbb{C} M$ whenever H is a common
subgroup of the finite groups G and M. So we have a huge class of
qurve-examples obtained from mixing finite and arithmetic groups with
curves and quivers. Qurves can we used as *machines* generating
interesting $A_{\infty}$-categories. Let us start by recalling
some facts about finite closed subschemes of an affine smooth variety Y
in the commutative case. Let **fdcom** be the category of all finite
dimensional commutative $\mathbb{C}$-algebras with morphisms
being onto algebra morphisms, then the study of finite closed subschemes
of Y is essentially the study of the covariant functor **fdcom** –>
**sets** assigning to a f.d. commutative algebra S the set of all onto
algebra maps from $\mathbb{C}[Y]$ to S. S being a f.d.
commutative semilocal algebra is the direct sum of local factors $S \simeq S_1 \oplus \ldots \oplus S_k$ where each factor has a
unique maximal ideal (a unique point in Y). Hence, our study reduces to
f.d. commutative images with support in a fixed point p of Y. But all
such quotients are also quotients of the completion of the local ring of
Y at p which (because Y is a smooth variety, say of dimension n) is
isomorphic to formal power series
$~\mathbb{C}[[x_1,\ldots,x_n]]$. So the local question, at any
point p of Y, reduces to finding all settings
$\mathbb{C}[[x_1,\ldots,x_n]] \twoheadrightarrow S \twoheadrightarrow \mathbb{C}$ Now, we are going to do something
strange (at least to an algebraist), we’re going to take duals and
translate the above sequence into a coalgebra statement. Clearly, the
dual $S^{\ast}$ of any finite dimensional commutative algebra
is a finite dimensional cocommutative coalgebra. In particular
$\mathbb{C}^{\ast} \simeq \mathbb{C}$ where the
comultiplication makes 1 into a grouplike element, that is
$\Delta(1) = 1 \otimes 1$. As long as the (co)algebra is
finite dimensional this duality works as expected : onto maps correspond
to inclusions, an ideal corresponds to a sub-coalgebra a sub-algebra
corresponds to a co-ideal, so in particular a local commutative algebra
corresponds to an pointed irreducible cocommutative coalgebra (a
coalgebra is said to be irreducible if any two non-zero subcoalgebras
have non-zero intersection, it is called simple if it has no non-zero
proper subcoalgebras and is called pointed if all its simple
subcoalgebras are one-dimensional. But what about infinite dimensional
algebras such as formal power series? Well, here the trick is not to
take all dual functions but only those linear functions whose kernel
contains a cofinite ideal (which brings us back to the good finite
dimensional setting). If one takes only those good linear functionals,
the ‘fancy’-dual $A^o$of an algebra A is indeed a coalgebra. On
the other hand, the full-dual of a coalgebra is always an algebra. So,
between commutative algebras and cocommutative coalgebras we have a
duality by associating to an algebra its fancy-dual and to a coalgebra
its full-dual (all this is explained in full detail in chapter VI of
Moss Sweedler’s book ‘Hopf algebras’). So, we can dualize the above pair
of onto maps to get coalgebra inclusions $\mathbb{C} \subset S^{\ast} \subset U(\mathfrak{a})$ where the rightmost coalgebra is
the coalgebra structure on the enveloping algebra of the Abelian Lie
algebra of dimension n (in which all Lie-elements are primitive, that is
$\Delta(x) = x \otimes 1 + 1 \otimes x$ and indeed we have that
$U(\mathfrak{a})^{\ast} \simeq \mathbb{C}[[x_1,\ldots,x_n]]$.
We have translated our local problem to finding all f.d. subcoalgebras
(containing the unique simple) of the enveloping algebra. But what is
the point of this translation? Well, we are not interested in the local
problem, but in the global problem, so we somehow have to **sum over all
points**. Now, on the algebra level that is a problem because the sum of
all local power series rings over all points is no longer an algebra,
whereas the direct sum of all pointed irreducible coalgebras $~B_Y = \oplus_{p \in Y} U(\mathfrak{a}_p)$ is again a coalgebra! That
is, we have found a huge coalgebra (which we call the coalgebra of
‘distributions’ on Y) such that for every f.d. commutative algebra S we
have $Hom_{comm alg}(\mathbb{C}[Y],S) \simeq Hom_{cocomm coalg}(S^{\ast},B_Y)$ Can we get Y back from this coalgebra of
districutions? Well, in a way, the points of Y correspond to the
group-like elements, and if g is the group-like corresponding to a point
p, we can recover the tangent-space at p back as the g-primitive
elements of the coalgebra of distributions, that is the elements such
that $\Delta(x) = x \otimes g + g \otimes x$. Observe that in
this commutative case, there are no **skew-primitives**, that is
elements such that $\Delta(x) = x \otimes g + h \otimes x$ for
different group-likes g and h. This is the coalgebra translation of the
fact that a f.d. semilocal commutative algebra is the direct sum of
local components. This is something that will definitely change if we
try to extend the above to the case of qurves (to be continued).

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