Mathematical Research Letters

Volume 5 (1998)

Number 1

Simple loops on surfaces and their intersection numbers

Pages: 47 – 56



Feng Luo (Rutgers University)


Given a compact orientable surface $\Sigma$, let $\Cal S(\Sigma)$ be the set of isotopy classes of essential simple loops on $\Sigma$. We determine a complete set of relations for a function from $\Cal S(\Sigma)$ to $\Bbb Z$ to be a geometric intersection number function. As a consequence, we obtain explicit equations in $\Bbb R^{\Cal S(\Sigma)}$ and $P (\Bbb R^{\Cal S(\Sigma)})$ defining Thurston’s space of measured laminations and Thurston’s compactification of the Teichmüller space. These equations are not only piecewise integral linear but also semi-real algebraic.

Published 1 January 1998