Positivity and the Existence of Unitary Dilations of Commuting Contractions

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The central result of this paper is a method of characterizing those commuting tuples of operators that have a unitary dilation, in terms of the existence of a positive map with certain properties. Although this positivity condition is not necessarily easy to check given a concrete example, it can be used to find practical tests in some circumstances. As an application, we extend a dilation theorem of Sz.-Nagy and Foiaş concerning regular dilations to a more general setting