Mathematics, Department of


Date of this Version



1997 Authors


Proc. London Math. Soc. (3) 78 (1999) 401±430.


In this paper, we obtain a complete description of the invariant subspace structure of an interesting new class of algebras which we call free semigroup algebras. This enables us to prove that they are reflexive, and moreover to obtain a quantitative measure of the distance to these algebras in terms of the invariant subspaces. Such algebras are called hyper-reflexive. This property is very strong, but it has been established in only a very few cases. Moreover the prototypes of this class of algebras are the natural candidate for a non-commutative analytic Toeplitz algebra on n variables. The case we make for this analogy is very compelling. In particular, in this paper, the key to the invariant subspace analysis is a good analogue of the Beurling theorem for invariant subspaces of the unilateral shift. This leads to a notion of inner-outer factorization in these algebras. In a sequel to this paper [13], we add to this evidence by showing that there is a natural homomorphism of the automorphism group onto the group of conformal automorphisms of the ball in Cn.