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The Johnson homomorphism and its kernel

Andrew Putman
Arxiv ID: 0904.0467Last updated: 6/8/2020
We give a new proof of a celebrated theorem of Dennis Johnson that asserts that the kernel of the Johnson homomorphism on the Torelli subgroup of the mapping class group is generated by separating twists. In fact, we prove a more general result that also applies to "subsurface Torelli groups". Using this, we extend Johnson's calculation of the rational abelianization of the Torelli group not only to the subsurface Torelli groups, but also to finite-index subgroups of the Torelli group that contain the kernel of the Johnson homomorphism.

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