Associated to a compact oriented surface with marked points on its boundary is an interesting class of finite-dimensional algebras. These algebras are examples of gentle algebras, and their representation theory has been studied by many authors in connection with the theory of cluster algebras. An important fact about these algebras is that their indecomposable modules come in two types: string modules, which correspond to arcs connecting marked points on the surface, and band modules, which correspond to closed loops on the surface. Thanks to the work of many mathematicians, the string modules are known to categorify generators of a cluster algebra.
In this talk, I will explain how, by including band modules in this story, one can define a family of graded vector spaces which categorify Fock and Goncharov's canonical basis for the algebra of functions on an associated cluster variety. These vector spaces are of interest in mathematical physics, where they are expected to provide a mathematical definition of the space of framed BPS states from the work of Gaiotto, Moore, and Neitzke.