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## Lattice paths and the quadratic coefficient of Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials

SPUR is finally over! Instead of continuing my series of blog posts, I thought I’d just link to my paper, Lattice paths and the quadratic coefficient of Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials, and the first few blog posts should more or less provide enough background to read it.

My project ended up changing direction. The formula I was working with for the quadratic coefficient was so unwieldy that I ended up spending the whole time trying to simplify it, and instead of saying anything about non-negativity I ended up saying something about combinatorial invariance. The combinatorial invariance conjecture, which goes back to Lusztig and, independently, Dyer, says that the Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomial $P_{u,v}(q)$ depends only on the poset structure of $[u, v]$. In the special case that $u = e$ this was proven in 2006 by Brenti, Caselli, and Marietti. However, the conjecture is still open in general.

In particular, explicit nonrecursive formulas in which each term only depends on poset-theoretic data are not known in general. They are known in the case that the length $\ell(u, v)$ of the interval $[u, v]$ is less than or equal to $4$, and there is also such a formula for the coefficient of $q$ of $P_{e,v}(q)$ where $e$ is the identity. The main result of the paper is a formula for the coefficient of $q^2$ of $P_{u,v}(q)$ in which all but three of the terms depend only on poset data, which is a simplification of a general formula due to Brenti for $P_{u,v}(q)$ in terms of lattice paths. It reduces to

• a formula for the coefficient of $q^2$ of $P_{e,v}(q)$ in which all but one of the terms depends only on poset data,
• a formula for the coefficient of $q^2$ of $P_{u,v}(q)$ where $\ell(u, v) = 5$ in which all but one of the terms (but a different term) depends only on poset data (not in the paper), and
• a formula for the coefficient of $q^2$ of $P_{e,v}(q)$ where $\ell(u, v) = 6$ in which every term depends only on poset data.

I believe these formulas are known in some form, but the method of proof is likely to be novel. In any case, the troublesome terms in the above are all essentially coefficients of R-polynomials. If I revisit this project in the future, I will be focusing my attention on these coefficients, and my goal will be to find a poset-theoretic formula for $P_{u,v}(q)$ in the length $5$ case, the smallest-length case where (to my knowledge) combinatorial invariance is open.

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## Hecke algebras and the Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials

The Hecke algebra attached to a Coxeter system $(W, S)$ is a deformation of the group algebra of $W$ defined as follows. Take the free $\mathbb{Z}[q^{ \frac{1}{2} }, q^{ - \frac{1}{2} }]$-module $\mathcal{H}_W$ with basis $T_w, w \in W$, and impose the multiplicative relations

$T_w T_s = T_{ws}$

if $\ell(sw) > \ell(w)$, and

$T_w T_s = q T_{ws} + (q - 1) T_w$

otherwise. (For now, ignore the square root of $q$.) Humphreys proves that these relations describe a unique associative algebra structure on $\mathcal{H}_W$ with $T_e$ as the identity, but the proof is somewhat unenlightening, so I will skip it. (Actually, the only purpose of this post is to motivate the definition of the Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials, so I’ll be referencing the proofs in Humphreys rather than giving them.)

The motivation behind this definition is a somewhat long story. When $W$ is the Weyl group of an algebraic group $G$ with Borel subgroup $B$, the above relations describe the algebra of functions on $G(\mathbb{F}_q)$ which are bi-invariant with respect to the left and right actions of $B(\mathbb{F}_q)$ under a convolution product. The representation theory of the Hecke algebra is an important tool in understanding the representation theory of the group $G$, and more general Hecke algebras play a similar role; see, for example MO question #4547 and this Secret Blogging Seminar post. For example, replacing $G$ and $B$ with $\text{SL}_2(\mathbb{Q})$ and $\text{SL}_2(\mathbb{Z})$ gives the Hecke operators in the theory of modular forms.

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