## On finite groups acting on acyclic low-dimensional manifolds

### Volume 215 / 2011

#### Abstract

We consider finite groups which admit a faithful, smooth action on an acyclic manifold of dimension three, four or five (e.g. Euclidean space). Our first main result states that a finite group acting on an acyclic 3- or 4-manifold is isomorphic to a subgroup of the orthogonal group ${\rm O}(3)$ or ${\rm O}(4)$, respectively. The analogous statement remains open in dimension five (where it is not true for arbitrary continuous actions, however). We prove that the only finite nonabelian simple groups admitting a smooth action on an acyclic 5-manifold are the alternating groups $\mathbb A_5$ and $\mathbb A_6$, and deduce from this a short list of finite groups, closely related to the finite subgroups of SO(5), which are the candidates for orientation-preserving actions on acyclic 5-manifolds.