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Winner of the 2014 EMS Monograph Award!
This text is a monograph in algebra, with connections toward geometry and low-dimensional topology. It mainly involves groups, monoids, and categories, and aims at providing a unified treatment for those situations in which one can find distinguished decompositions by iteratively extracting a maximal fragment lying in a prescribed family. Initiated in 1969 by F. A. Garside in the case of Artin’s braid groups, this approach turned out to lead to interesting results in a number of cases, the central notion being what the authors call a Garside family. At the moment, the study is far from complete, and the purpose of this book is both to present the current state of the theory and to be an invitation for further research.
There are two parts: the bases of a general theory, including many easy examples, are developed in Part A, whereas various more sophisticated examples are specifically addressed in Part B.
In order to make the content accessible to a wide audience of nonspecialists, exposition is essentially self-contained and very few prerequisites are needed. In particular, it should be easy to use the current text as a textbook both for Garside theory and for the more specialized topics investigated in Part B: Artin–Tits groups, Deligne-Lusztig varieties, groups of algebraic laws, ordered groups, structure groups of set-theoretic solutions of the Yang–Baxter equation. The first part of the book can be used as the basis for a graduate or advanced undergraduate course.