Shake genus and slice genus

Lisa Piccirillo
Taplin Auditorium

An important difference between high dimensional smooth manifolds and smooth 4-manifolds is that in a 4-manifold it is not always possible to represent every middle dimensional homology class with a smoothly embedded sphere.

This is true even among the simplest 4-manifolds: $X_0(K)$ obtained by attaching an $0$-framed 2-handle to the 4-ball along a knot $K$ in $S^3$.

The $0$-shake genus of $K$ records the minimal genus among all smooth embedded surfaces representing a generator of the second homology of $X_0(K)$ and is clearly bounded above by the slice genus of $K$. We prove that slice genus is not an invariant of $X_0(K)$, and thereby provide infinitely many examples of knots with $0$-shake genus strictly less than slice genus. This resolves Problem 1.41 of the Kirby list. As corollaries we show that Rasmussen's $s$ invariant is not a $0$-trace invariant and we give examples, via the satellite operation, of bijective maps on the smooth concordance group which fix the identity but do not preserve slice genus.