Hierarchically hyperbolic spaces II: Combination theorems and the distance formula

Jason Behrstock, Mark Hagen, Alessandro Sisto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


We introduce a number of tools for finding and studying hierarchically hyperbolic spaces (HHS), a rich class of spaces including mapping class groups of surfaces, Teichmüller space with either the Teichmüller orWeil-Petersson metrics, right-angled Artin groups, and the universal cover of any compact special cube complex. We begin by introducing a streamlined set of axioms defining an HHS. We prove that all HHS satisfy a Masur-Minsky-style distance formula, thereby obtaining a new proof of the distance formula in the mapping class group without relying on the Masur-Minsky hierarchy machinery. We then study examples of HHS; for instance, we prove that when M is a closed irreducible 3-manifold then π1M is an HHS if and only if it is neither Nil nor Sol. We establish this by proving a general combination theorem for trees of HHS (and graphs of HH groups). We also introduce a notion of "hierarchical quasiconvexity", which in the study of HHS is analogous to the role played by quasiconvexity in the study of Gromov-hyperbolic spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-338
Number of pages82
JournalPacific Journal of Mathematics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2019


  • Geometric group theory
  • Hierarchically hyperbolic
  • Mapping class group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)


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