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As the title says, I am working on examples for a research project I'm doing, and I need a way to efficiently calculate the intersection of subgroups of a free group (say, of rank 2). Are there any computer programs to do this, or any papers explaining how such a program could be written?

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    $\begingroup$ You're likely to find something in GAP. $\endgroup$ – Shaun Aug 2 at 15:58
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The (free) computer algebra system - GAP may be what you are looking for. There is a package within GAP called "Free Group Algorithms"

Here is an example GAP session to demonstrate some features and an example you might be interested in.

gap> f:= FreeGroup("a","b");
<free group on the generators [ a, b ]>
gap> AssignGeneratorVariables(f);
#I  Assigned the global variables [ a, b ]
gap> u := Group(a^2, b^2, a*b);
Group([ a^2, b^2, a*b ])
gap> v := Group( a^3, b);
Group([ a^3, b ])
gap> w := Intersection(u, v);
Group(<free, no generators known>)
gap> RankOfFreeGroup(w);
3
gap> MinimalGeneratingSet(w);
[ b^2, a^3*b^-1, b*a^3 ]

In particular we create the free group of rank 2, with generators $a$ and $b$. Then we create a subgroup $u$ generated by $a^{2}, b^{2}, ab $ and another subgroup $v$ generated by $a^3$ and $b$.

We find the intersection of these two subgroups, and then find the rank of the intersection and a minimal generating set for it.

Further reading

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