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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

**Abstract:** In the 1970s, McDuff proved that configuration spaces of distinct unordered particles in an open manifold exhibit homological stability. That is, H_i(Conf_k(M)) is independent of k for k>>i. A natural follow up question is: Do the homotopy groups also stabilize? From explicit calculations, one can show that this is not the case. However, in joint work with Alexander Kupers, I have shown that the rational homotopy groups of configuration spaces of particles in simply connected manifolds of dimension at least 3 exhibit representation stability in the sense of Church and Farb. This follows from a more general theorem we prove relating the homotopy groups and cohomology groups of co-FI-spaces and from the work of Church on representation stability for the cohomology of ordered configuration spaces. This result on homotopy groups suggests that in situations with homological stability, one should not expect classical stability for homotopy groups. Instead, one should try to incorporate the fundamental group into one's definition of stability.