You are on page 1of 26

Coxeter groups and some (fun) problems related

to them
Alexander Diaz-Lopez
Swarthmore College

SACNAS National Conference


Algebra: Much More than Arithmetic!

Lathisms.org

This is joint work with:

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

213 231 312 321}

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.

Positivity Conjecture for Peak Polynomials

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

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

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

2q|S| pSi` (q) +

`=1
s
X
`=1

s
X
`=1

pbS (x ).
i`

2q|S| pbS (q)


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

then the coefficients (j pS )(m) > 0 for all 1 j m 1, and


(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

Play the same game with descents.

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

and descent algebras.

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).