Abstract

We introduce and study a strong "thin triangle"' condition for directed graphs, which generalises the usual notion of hyperbolicity for a metric space. We prove that finitely generated left cancellative monoids whose right Cayley graphs satisfy this condition must be finitely presented with polynomial Dehn functions, and hence word problems in NP. Under the additional assumption of right cancellativity (or in some cases the weaker condition of bounded indegree), they also admit algorithms for more fundamentally semigroup-theoretic decision problems such as Green's relations $\mathcal{L}$, $\mathcal{R}$, $\mathcal{J}$, $\mathcal{D}$ and the corresponding pre-orders. In contrast, we exhibit a right cancellative (but not left cancellative) finitely generated monoid (in fact, an infinite class of them) whose Cayley graph is a essentially a tree (hence hyperbolic in our sense and probably any reasonable sense), but which is not even recursively presentable. This seems to be strong evidence that no geometric notion of hyperbolicity will be strong enough to yield much information about finitely generated monoids in absolute generality.