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# Coxeter groups and some (fun) problems related

to them
Alexander Diaz-Lopez
Swarthmore College

## SACNAS National Conference

Algebra: Much More than Arithmetic!

Lathisms.org

Pamela Harris

Erik Insko

Mo Omar

Bruce Sagan

## The symmetric group

Definition
A symmetric group of degree n, denoted by Sn , is the set of all
bijective mappings from the set [n] := {1, 2, . . . , n} to itself.
We can represent the elements of Sn in a variety of ways (one-line
notation, two-line notation, matrices). We will use the one-line
notation.
S3 = {123 132

## The symmetric group

Since Sn is a bijective map : [n] [n] we can represent
by plotting the points (i, (i)).
p
6

pb

p6 p

p
6

pb

bp

bp

pb
p
@
p  p @pb

pb p
p

bp
p
A
p A p
A
p Apb

p-

p-

p6 p

p
p
p

= 123

= 132

= 231

p-

pb

bp
p  p
@

p @
pb
p

p6 pb
p
A
p
p A p
A
p
p Apb

p
p
p
6
bp
@
p
p @bp
p
@
p
p
p @pb

p-

= 213

p-

= 312

pb

= 321

p-

## The symmetric group

Definition
Let Sn , and = 1 2 n denote its one-line notation. A
permutation is said to have peak at i if i1 < i > i+1 .

6
p

pb

6
p

pb

pb

p-

= 123

bp
p
@
p  p @pb

bp

p
p
p

= 132

p-

Peak sets in Sn
Definition
The peak set of a permutation is the set of peaks in :
P() = {i [n] : i is a peak of }.

Peak sets in Sn
Definition
The peak set of a permutation is the set of peaks in :
P() = {i [n] : i is a peak of }.
Given a subset S [n], we denote the set of all permutations with
peak set S by
P(S; n) = { Sn : P() = S}.

Peak sets in Sn
Definition
The peak set of a permutation is the set of peaks in :
P() = {i [n] : i is a peak of }.
Given a subset S [n], we denote the set of all permutations with
peak set S by
P(S; n) = { Sn : P() = S}.

Question
How many permutations in Sn have a given peak set i.e., what is
the cardinality of P(S; n)?

Example in S3
6
p

pb

p6 p

p
6

pb

bp

bp

pb
p
@
p  p @pb

pb p
p

p
bp
A
p A p
A
p Apb

p-

p-

p6 p

p
p
p

= 123

= 132

= 231

p-

pb

bp
p  p
@

p @
pb
p

p6 pb
p
A
p
p A p
A
p
p Apb

p
6
bp
p
p
@
p
p @bp
p
@
p
p
p @pb

p-

= 213

p-

= 312

pb

## P(; 3) = {123, 213, 312, 321}

P({2}; 3) = {132, 231}.

= 321

p-

Peak sets in Sn
Question
How many permutations in Sn have a given peak set?

Peak sets in Sn
Question
How many permutations in Sn have a given peak set?

## Theorem (Billey, Burdzy, Sagan 2013)

Let P(S; n) denote the set of permutations in Sn with peak set S.
If S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } then
|P(S; n)| = pS (n)2n|S|1
where pS (x ) is a polynomial depending on S of degree is 1,
which takes on integral values when evaluated at integers.

Peak sets in Sn
Question
How many permutations in Sn have a given peak set?

## Theorem (Billey, Burdzy, Sagan 2013)

Let P(S; n) denote the set of permutations in Sn with peak set S.
If S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } then
|P(S; n)| = pS (n)2n|S|1
where pS (x ) is a polynomial depending on S of degree is 1,
which takes on integral values when evaluated at integers.
The polynomial pS (x ) is what is called the peak polynomial of S.

## Trying to understand the peak polynomials

Theorem
If S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } then
|P(S; n)| = pS (n)2n|S|1
where pS (x ) is a polynomial depending on S of degree is 1.

## Trying to understand the peak polynomials

Theorem
If S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } then
|P(S; n)| = pS (n)2n|S|1
where pS (x ) is a polynomial depending on S of degree is 1.

(Open) Question
What does the 2n|S|1 mean?

Question
What properties does pS (n) have?

## Trying to understand the peak polynomials

Theorem
If S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } then
|P(S; n)| = pS (n)2n|S|1
where pS (x ) is a polynomial depending on S of degree is 1.

(Open) Question
What does the 2n|S|1 mean?

Question
What properties does pS (n) have?

## Conjecture (Positivity Conjecture)

The coefficients of the peak polynomial when written in the
binomial basis centered at max(S) are non-negative.

## When pS (x ) is expanded in the binomial basis centered at

m = max(S) we get
m
X

x m
pS (x ) =
( pS )(m)
.
j
j=0
j

## Conjecture (Positivity Conjecture)

The coefficients (j pS )(k) are all non-negative when k = max(S).

## Prior progress on the positivity conjecture

In 2013, Billey, Burdzy, and Sagan:
verified it computationally for all 2m subsets containing a

## Prior progress on the positivity conjecture

In 2013, Billey, Burdzy, and Sagan:
verified it computationally for all 2m subsets containing a

## largest value m = max(S) = 20, and

In 2015, Billey, Fahrbach, and Talmage:
posed a stronger conjecture bounding the moduli of the roots

## of pS (x ), which they verified for all peak sets S with

max(S) 15,
discovered a computationally efficient recursive algorithm for

computing pS (x ), and
proved that the positivity conjecture holds in several special

cases

## Prior progress on the positivity conjecture

In 2013, Billey, Burdzy, and Sagan:
verified it computationally for all 2m subsets containing a

## largest value m = max(S) = 20, and

In 2015, Billey, Fahrbach, and Talmage:
posed a stronger conjecture bounding the moduli of the roots

## of pS (x ), which they verified for all peak sets S with

max(S) 15,
discovered a computationally efficient recursive algorithm for

computing pS (x ), and
proved that the positivity conjecture holds in several special

cases
In Fall 2015 ...

## Another recursive formula

Theorem (DL., Harris, Insko, Omar 2016)
Let S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } [n + 1] with i1 < i2 < . . . < is be an
(n + 1)-admissible set. Then for q max(S)
|P(S; q + 1)| = 2|P(S; q)| + 2

s
X
`=1

|P(Si` ; q)| +

s
X
`=1

|P(Sbi` ; q)|.

## Another recursive formula

Theorem (DL., Harris, Insko, Omar 2016)
Let S = {i1 , i2 , . . . , is } [n + 1] with i1 < i2 < . . . < is be an
(n + 1)-admissible set. Then for q max(S)
|P(S; q + 1)| = 2|P(S; q)| + 2

s
X

|P(Si` ; q)| +

`=1

s
X

|P(Sbi` ; q)|.

`=1

## The theorem is equivalent to

2q|S| pS (q + 1) = 2q|S| pS (q) +
pS (x ) =

s
X
`=1

pSi` (x ) +

s
X

`=1
s
X
`=1

s
X
`=1

pbS (x ).
i`

i`

Main Result

## Theorem (DL., Harris, Insko, Omar 2016)

Let S [n] be an admissible set with m = max(S). If pS (x ) is
expanded in the binomial basis centered at m as
max(S)

pS (x ) =

X
j=0

x m
( pS )(m)
j

(m pS )(x ) = 0.

Current work
p
6

pb

p6 p

p
6

pb

bp

bp

pb
p
@
p  p @pb

pb p
p

bp
p
A
p A p
A
p Apb

p-

p-

= 123

p
p

= 231

p-

pb

bp
p  p
@

p @
pb
p

p6 pb
p
A
p
p A p
A
p
p Apb

p
p
p
6
bp
@
p
p @bp
p
@
p
p
p @pb

p-

p6 p
p

= 132

= 213

p-

= 312

pb

= 321

p-

Other projects

## Joint with Lucas Everham, Harris, Insko, Vincent Marcantonio,

and Omar:
Peaks on families of graphs - Sn is in fact the path graph on

n vertices.
Joint with Harris, Insko, Sagan:
Find a combinatorial interpretation for the coefficients of

## pS (n) in the binomial basis centered at max (S).

Joint with ??
Find the meaning of these results when looking at the peak

Thanks!

## This work was supported through mini-collaboration travel grants

via awards from the National Science Foundation (DMS-1545136)
and the National Security Agency (H98230-15-1-0091).