In this self-contained paper, we present a theory of the piecewise linear minimal valid functions for the 1-row Gomory-Johnson infinite group problem. The non-extreme minimal valid functions are those that admit effective perturbations. We give a precise description of the space of these perturbations as a direct sum of certain finite- and infinite-dimensional subspaces. The infinite-dimensional subspaces have partial symmetries; to describe them, we develop a theory of inverse semigroups of partial bijections, interacting with the functional equations satisfied by the perturbations. Our paper provides the foundation for grid-free algorithms for the Gomory-Johnson model, in particular for testing extremality of piecewise linear functions whose breakpoints are rational numbers with huge denominators.