Tue, 9 March 2021, 1 pm MST

$\aleph_1$-free groups, abelian groups whose countable subgroups are free, are objects of both algebraic and set-theoretic interest. Illustrating this, we note that $\aleph_1$-free groups, and in particular the question of when $\aleph_1$-free groups are free, were central to the resolution of the Whitehead problem as undecidable. In elucidating the relationship between $\aleph_1$-freeness and freeness, we prove the following result: an abelian group $G$ is $\aleph_1$-free in a countable transitive model of $\operatorname{ZFC}$ (and thus by absoluteness, in every transitive model of $\operatorname{ZFC}$) if and only if it is free in some generic model extension. We would like to answer the more specific question of when an $\aleph_1$-free group can be forced to be free while preserving the cardinality of the group. For groups of size $\aleph_1$, we establish a necessary and sufficient condition for when such forcings are possible. We also identify a number of existing and novel forcings which force such $\aleph_1$-free groups of size $\aleph_1$ to become free with cardinal preservation. These forcings lay the groundwork for a larger project which uses forcing to explore various algebraic properties of $\aleph_1$-free groups and develops new set-theoretical tools for working with them.