Polar actions on symmetric spaces

By Jürgen Berndt (King's College, London)

An isometric action of a connected Lie group on a Riemannian manifold is called polar if there exists a connected closed submanifold that meets each orbit of the action and intersects it orthogonally. Dadok established in 1985 a remarkable, and mysterious, relation between polar actions on Euclidean spaces and Riemannian symmetric spaces. Soon afterwards an attempt was made to classify polar actions on symmetric spaces. For irreducible symmetric spaces of compact type the final step of the classification has recently been achieved by Kollross and Lytchak. In the talk I want to focus on symmetric spaces of noncompact type. For actions of reductive groups one can use the concept of duality between symmetric spaces of compact type and of noncompact type. However, new examples and phenomena arise from the geometry induced by actions of parabolic subgroups, for which there is no analogon in the compact case. I plan to discuss the main difficulties one encounters here and some partial solutions.