This post is related to the previous What’s the difference between uniform and coarse structures? (I). However, it’s not part (II).

* Psychological motivation.* Helge Gloecker made a clear mathscinet review of my paper Braided spaces with dilations and sub-riemannian symmetric spaces. This part of the review motivated me to start writing some more about dilatation structures, some of it explained in the next section of this post. Here is the motivating part of the review:

“Aiming to put sub-Riemannian geometry on a purely metric footing (without recourse to differentiable structures), the author developed the concept of a dilatation structure and related notions in earlier works [see J. Gen. Lie Theory Appl. 1 (2007), no. 2, 65–95; MR2300069 (2008d:20074); Houston J. Math. 36 (2010), no. 1, 91–136; MR2610783 (2011h:53032); Commun. Math. Anal. 11 (2011), no. 2, 70–111; MR2780883 (2012e:53051)].

[…]

In a recent preprint [see “Emergent algebras”, arXiv:0907.1520], the author showed that idempotent right quasigroups are a useful auxiliary notion for the introduction (and applications) of dilatation structures.

[…]

The author sketches how dilatation structures can be defined with the help of uniform irqs,** suppressing the technical and delicate axioms concerning the domains of the locally defined maps. More precisely, because the maps are only locally defined, the structures which occur are not uniform irqs at face value, but only suitable analogues using locally defined maps (a technical complication which is not mentioned in the article)**.”

This was done before, several times, for dilatation structures, but Helge is right that it has not been done for emergent algebras.

Which brings me to the main point: I started a paper with the same (but temporary) name as this post. The paper is based on the following ideas.

* Fields of dilations which generate their own topology, uniformity, coarse structure, whatever.* In a normed real vector space we may use dilations as replacements of metric balls. Here is the simple idea.

Let us define, for any , the domain of as , the ball with center , of radius one, with respect to the distance . In general, let be the metric ball with respect to the distance induced by the norm.

Also, for any and , the dilation based at , with coefficient is the function .

I use these notations to write the ball of radius as and give it the fancy name * dilation ball of coefficient* .

In fact, spaces with dilations, or dilatation structures, or dilation structures, are various names for spaces endowed with fields of dilations which satisfy certain axioms. Real normed vector spaces are examples of spaces with dilations, as a subclass of the larger class of conical groups with dilations, itself just a subclass of groups with dilations. Regular sub-riemannian manifolds are examples of spaces with dilations without a predefined group structure.

For any space with dilations, then, we may ask * what can we get by forgetting the distance function, but keeping the dilation balls*. With the help of those we may define the uniformity associated with a field of dilations and then ask that the field of dilations is behaves uniformly, and so on.

Another structure, as interesting as the uniformity structure, is the (bounded metric) coarse structure of the space, which again could be expressed in terms of fields of dilations. As coarse structures and uniform structures are very much alike (only that one is interesting for the small scale, other for the large scale), is there a notion of dilation structure which is appropriate for coarse structures?

I shall be back on this, with details, but the overall idea is that a field of dilations (a notion even weaker than an emergent algebra) is somehow midway between a uniformity structure and a coarse structure.

* UPDATE (28.10.2012):* I just found bits of the work of Protasov, who introduced the notion of “ball structure” and “ballean”, which is clearly related with the idea of keeping the balls, not the distance. Unfortunately, for the moment I am unable to find a way to read his two monographs on the subject.

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