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Archive for June, 2010

At SPUR this summer I’ll be working on the Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials, although my mentor and I haven’t quite pinned down what problem I’m working on. I thought I’d take the chance to share some interesting mathematics and also to write up some background for my own benefit. I’ll mostly be following the second half of Humphreys.

A Coxeter system (W, S) is a group W together with a generating set S and presentation of the form

\langle s_1, ... s_n | (s_i s_j)^{m(i, j)} = 1 \rangle

where m(i, j) = m(j, i), m(i, i) = 1, and m(i, j) \ge 2, i \neq j. (When there is no relation between s_i, s_j, we write this as m(i, j) = \infty.) The group W is a Coxeter group, and is usually understood to come with a preferred presentation, so we will often abuse terminology and use “group” and “system” interchangeably. S is also referred to as the set of simple reflections in W, and n the rank. (We will only consider finitely-generated Coxeter groups.)

Historically, Coxeter groups arose as symmetry groups of regular polytopes and as Weyl groups associated to root systems, which in turn are associated to Lie groups, Lie algebras, and/or algebraic groups; the former are very important in understanding the latter. John Armstrong over at the Unapologetic Mathematician has a series on root systems. In addition, for a non-technical overview of Coxeter groups and q-analogues, I recommend John Baez’s week184 through week187. The slogan you should remember is that Weyl groups are “simple algebraic groups over \mathbb{F}_1.”

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