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# Bruhat Order for Two Flags and a Line

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### Bruhat Order for Two Flags and a Line

PETER MAGYAR magyar@math.msu.edu

Department of Mathematics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 Received October 18, 2002; Revised November 25, 2003; Accepted November 25, 2003

Abstract. The classical Ehresmann-Bruhat order describes the possible degenerations of a pair of flags in a linear space V under linear transformations of V ; or equivalently, it describes the closure of an orbit of GL(V ) acting diagonally on the product of two flag varieties.

We consider the degenerations of a triple consisting of two flags and a line, or equivalently the closure of an orbit of GL(V ) acting diagonally on the product of two flag varieties and a projective space. We give a simple rank criterion to decide whether one triple can degenerate to another. We also classify the minimal degenerations, which involve not only reflections (i.e., transpositions) in the Weyl group Sn, n=dim(V ), but also cycles of arbitrary length. Our proofs use only elementary linear algebra and combinatorics.

Keywords: quiver representations, multiple flags, degeneration, geometric order

1. Introduction

1.1. A line and two flags

We shall deal with certain configurations of linear subspaces inCn(or any vector space V ).

A configuration F =( A,B,C) consists of a line A⊂Cn and two flags of subspaces of fixed dimensions, B = (B1B2 ⊂ · · · ⊂Cn) and C = (C1C2 ⊂ · · · ⊂Cn). In this Introduction, we restrict ourselves to the case in which B,Care full flags: dimBi = dimCi =i for i=0,1,2, . . . ,n.

Our aim is to describe such configurations up to a linear change of coordinates inCn, and the ways in which more generic configurations can degenerate to more special ones. One could ask this question for configurations of arbitrarily many flags; however in general it is

‘wild’ problem. The distinguishing feature of our case is that there are only finitely many configuration types F =( A,B,C), as we showed in a previous work  with Weyman and Zelevinsky.1

For example, there exists a most generic type Fmax, which degenerates to all other types.

It consists of those configurations which can be written in terms of some basisv1, . . . , vn

ofCnas:

A= v1+v2+ · · · +vn, Bi = v1, v2, . . . , vi, Ci = vn, vn−1, . . . , vni+1. (Herev1, v2, . . .means the linear span ofv1, v2, . . .) There is also a most special config- uration type Fmin:

A= v1, Bi =Ci= v1, v2, . . . , vi.

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The configurations of a more generic type can be made to degenerate to more special ones by letting some of the basis vectorsviapproach each other, so that in the limit some of the spaces A,Bi,Cjincrease their intersections.2Geometrically, a configuration type is an orbit of GLn(C) acting diagonally on the productPn−1×Flag(Cn)×Flag(Cn), with Fmax the open orbit and Fmin the unique closed orbit. Degeneration of configuration types means the topological closure of a large orbit contains a smaller orbit.

We seek a simple combinatorial description of all degenerations. The trivial case of n=2 is illustrated by a diagram in Section 1.3.

Our problem is directly analogous to the classical case in which the configurations consist of two flags only: F =(B,C). This theory originated with Schubert and Ehresmann; a good introduction is . In this case, the configurations (up to change of basis in Cn) correspond to permutationswSn: the configuration type Fwconsists of the double flags which can be written as:

Bi = v1, v2, . . . , vi, Ci =

vw(1), vw(2), . . . , vw(i )

for some basisv1, . . . , vn ofCn. A configuration type Fwis a degeneration of another Fy

exactly ifwy in the Bruhat order on Sn. Namely,wy iff

#( [i ]w[ j ] )#( [i ]y[ j ] )

for all 1≤i,jn, where [i ] := {1,2, . . . ,i}andw[ j ] := {w(1), w(2), . . . , w( j )}. This tableau criterion has the geometric meaning:

#( [i ]∩w[ j ] )=dim(BiCj)

for (B,C) of type Fw. The more special configuration Fwhas larger intersections among its spaces than the more generic Fy.

We can also describe the classical Bruhat order in terms of its covers:w <· y iff y = (i0,i1w for some transposition (i0,i1) ∈ Sn and(y) = 1+(w), where (w) is the number of inversions of w. We can picture this definition in terms of the permutation matrices Mw =(mi j) and My =(mi j), where mi j :=δw(i ),j, mi j :=δy(i ),j. Thenw <· y means that we have a pair of entries mi0j0 =mi1j1 =1 with (i0,j0) northwest of (i1,j1), and no other 1’s in the rectangle [i0,i1]×[ j0,j1]; and we flip these two ‘diagonal’ entries in Mwto the corresponding anti-diagonal, obtaining My:

w=

j0 j1 i0

i1

... ...

· · · 1· · ·0 · · · ... 0 ...

· · · 0· · ·1 · · · ... ...

<· y=

j0 j1 i0

i1

... ...

· · · 0· · ·1 · · · ... 0 ...

· · · 1· · ·0 · · · ... ...

;

or in compact notation, with 1 replaced by•and all unaffected rows and columns omitted:

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In terms of transpositions: y=(i0,i1w=w·( j0,j1).

We give a full exposition and proof of these classical results in Sections 2.1 and 3.

1.2. Bruhat order

Let us return to our case of a line and two flags. As we showed in , we can index our configuration types by decorated permutations (w, ), where= {j1<j2<· · ·<jt}is any non-empty descending subsequence ofw, meaningw( j1)> w( j2)>· · ·> w( jt). In the corresponding configuration Fw,, the permutationwdescribes the relative positions of Band Cin terms of a basisv1, . . . , vn, just as before; anddefines the extra line:

A=

vj1+vj2+ · · · +vjt

.

Thus, the generic Fmax is Fw,forw=w0=n,n−1, . . . ,2,1, the longest permutation, and = {1,2, . . . ,n}. The most special Fmin is Fw, for w = id = 1,2, . . . ,n and = {1}. We can picture a decorated permutation as a permutation matrix with circles around the positions (w( j ),j ) for j. For example, corresponds tow = 312 , = {1,3}.

We once again have a degeneration or Bruhat order, described combinatorially by a tableau criterion in terms of certain rank numbers which measure intersections of spaces in a configuration ( A,B,C) in Fw,. Namely, let

ri j(w) :=dim(BiCj)=#( [i ]∩w[ j ] ) as before, and

ri j(w, ) :=dim(BiCj)+dim( A(Bi+Cj))

=#( [i ]w[ j ] )+δi j(w, ), where

δi j(w, ) :=

1 if for all k, ki orw(k)j 0 otherwise.

We can realize this in terms of linear algebra by definingφi j : Bi×Cj →Cn/A, (v1, v2)→ v1+v2mod A: then ri j(w, ) = dim Kerφi j.These definitions are suggested by quiver theory: see Section 1.4 below. We will show that our geometric degeneration order has the

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following combinatorial description:

(w, )≤(y, )⇔





ri j(w, )≥ri j(y, ) ri j(w, )≥ri j(y, ).

for all 0≤i,jn

Finally, we can classify the covers (w, )<·(y, ) of our new Bruhat order. Remarkably, in many of the cases below the pairw < y is not a cover in the classical Bruhat order. We describe the covers in terms of certain flipping moves which we write in compact notation (again, with all unaffected rows and columns omitted). We describe how a more generic configuration ( A,B,C) (on the right) degenerates to a more special configuration (on the left).

MOVE(i) The line A moves into one of the spaces Bi+Cj, leaving B, Cunchanged:

MOVE(ii) One of the Bimoves further into one of the Cj, leaving A unchanged:

MOVE(iii) The line A lies in Bi+Cj. Then A moves into some BiBi, and so does the corresponding line in Cj. Alternatively, reverse the roles of Bi and Cj.

MOVE(iv) The line A lies in BiCj, but not in Bi+Cj, where BiBiand CjCj. Then A moves into Bi+Cj, and the corresponding line in Bi+Cjmoves with it.

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MOVE(v) The line A lies in Bi+Cj. Then Bimoves further into Cj, but A does not move with it, remaining outside BiCj.

Note that the underlying permutations in this move may differ by an arbitrary-length cycle in Sn, not necessarily a transposition.

As in the classical case of two flags, certain regions enclosed by the affected dots must be empty for these moves to define covers <· (though they always define relations

<). See Section 2.3. The above moves may seem complicated, but they are unavoidable in any computationally effective description: the minimal degenerations are what they are.

We showed in  that the number of parameters of a configuration type (i.e., its dimension when thought of as a GLn-orbit inPn−1×Flag(Cn)×Flag(Cn)) is:

dim(Fw,)= n

2 +(n−1)+(w)−#

j

for all k, k< j orw(k)< w( j )

.

For example, Fmin has dimension (n2)+(n−1)+0−(n−1)=(n2). Indeed, the minimal orbit is isomorphic to Flag(Cn).

It is easily seen from the description of the moves (i)–(v), together with the dot-vanishing conditions in Section 2.3, that each move increases the dimension by one. Thus, our Bruhat order is a poset ranked by dim(F)dim(Fmin). (This is no longer true if (B,C) are partial flags, and it is not clear whether our poset is ranked.)

We conjecture that a refinement of the move-labels (i)–(v) on the covers of our poset will give a lexicographic shelling similar to that of Edelman  for (undecorated) permutations.

1.3. Examples n=2,3

We illustrate our constructions in the simplest cases. Let n =2. Then the Hasse diagram of our Bruhat order is:

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Next to each decorated permutation, we have sketched the corresponding lines A, B= B1,C=C1inC2, with AB indicating that A and B coincide.

The elements of our poset correspond to the GL2-orbits on (P1)3 =(P1)×Flag(C2)× Flag(C2): the minimal element is the full diagonalP1 ⊂(P1)3; the mid-level elements are the three partial diagonals, homeomorphic toP1×C; and the maximal element is the generic orbit, homeomorphic toP1×C×C×, whereC× =C\{pt}.

Note that this maximal orbit is not a topological cell, even after fibering outP1. For general n, the maximal orbit is isomorphic to GLn/C×=PGLn, having fundamental group Z/nZ. It will be a topic for another paper to understand the geometry of the orbit closures;

however this example indicates that they have a non-trivial, but manageable topology.

Now let n = 3. We can enumerate the configuration types by counting the possible decorations (decreasing subsequences) of each permutation. The identity permutation has n =3 decorations, the longest permutation has 2n−1=7.

3 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 5 + 7 =28

123 213 132 231 312 321

The Hasse diagram appears on the next page. We have labelled the elements min, a, b, . . . ,x, y, z, max, as indicated. For example,

p=(312,{1,2})=

The 72 covering relations, each coming from a move of type (i)–(v), are:

min<·a min<·b min<·c min<·d a<·e a<·f a<·g a<·h b<·f b<·g b<·i b<·j b<·k b<·l c<·h c<·i c<·l d<·h d<·j d<·k e<·m e<·n f<·n f<·o f<·q g<·n g<·p g<·r h<·m h<·o h<·p h<·q h<·r h<·s i<·p i<·r i<·s i<·u j<·o j<·t

k<·p k<·q k<·s k<·t l<·p l<·u m<·v m<·w n<·v n<·w n<·y o<·v o<·x o<·y p<·w p<·y p<·z q<·w q<·x r<·w r<·z s<·x s<·z t<·x t<·y u<·y u<·z v <·max w <·max x<·max y<·max

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The elements in the i th rank of the poset have orbit dimension i+dim(Fmin)=i+3.

As an illustration of the tableau criterion (i.e., rank numbers defining the Bruhat order), let us check that ez: that is,

=(123,{3})=( A,B,C) and =(321,{1,2})=( A,B,C)

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are unrelated elements in our poset, even though 123<321 in the classical Bruhat order.

Indeed, in the second configuration, A= v1+v2B2 = v1, v2, and no degeneration of ( A,B,C) can destroy this containment. However, in the first configuration, A= v3B2 = v1, v2. Thus (123,{3}) ≤(321,{1,2}). In terms of our rank numbers: ri j(123) ≥ ri j(321) for all i,j , in particular r11(123)>r11(321); but r20(123,{3})<r20(321,{1,2}).

1.4. Structure of the paper

Now we sketch our proof of the above results. After some easy geometric arguments, we reduce our claims to a rather difficult combinatorial lemma. The idea is to approximate the geometric degeneration order from above and below by combinatorially defined orders, and then show that these combinatorial bounds are equal.

To begin, we distinguish in Section 2 three partial orders on decorated permutations (w, ). First, our geometric order deg≤ defined by degenerations of the corresponding con- figuration types Fw,. Second, the combinatorial order ≤rk defined in terms of the rank numbers ri j(w), ri j(w, ). Third, the order mv≤ generated by repeated application of our moves<i·, . . . ,<v·. We wish to show the equivalence of these three orders.

Some simple geometry and linear algebra in Section 4 suffices to show that:

(w, )mv(y, ) ⇒ (w, )deg(y, ) ⇒ (w, )≤rk(y, ).

That is, any move corresponds to a degeneration, and any degeneration increases the rank numbers. We are then left in Section 5 to show the purely combinatorial assertion:

(w, )≤rk(y, ) ⇒ (w, )mv(y, ).

Given a relation (w, )<rk(y, ), we find a move (w, )mv<·( ˜w,˜) such that the smaller rank numbers of ( ˜w,˜) still dominate those of (y, ):

(w, )mv<·( ˜w,)˜ ≤rk(y, ).

Iterating this construction within our finite poset, we eventually get (w, )mv<·( ˜w1,˜1)mv<· · · ·mv<·( ˜wk,˜k)=(y, ).

Throughout our proof, we work in the more general case where B,C are arbitrary partial flags, with orbits indexed not by permutations but by double cosets of permutations, or “transport matrices”, as defined in Section 2.1. Also, our proofs are characteristic-free:

our vector spaces are over an arbitrary infinite field k, not necessarilyC.

Our Rank Theorem, giving the equivalence of deg≤ and ≤rk, is a strengthened converse to Proposition 4.5 in our work , which relied heavily on quiver theory. In the notation of , for a triple flag X = ( A,B,C), we have: ri j(X ) = dim Hom(I{(i,j )},X ) and ri j(X )=dim Hom(I{(i,r ),(q,j )},X ).

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Our approach is closely related to that of Zwara and Skowronski [8, 9]; Bongartz , Riedtmann  et al., who considered the degeneration order on quiver representa- tions. However, in our special case, our results are sharper than those of the general theory. Our description of the covering moves (i)–(v) can be deduced (with non-trivial work) from Zwara’s results on the extension order ext in [8, 9]. But our results about the rank order ≤rk are considerably stronger than any of the corresponding general re- sults: our order requires computing Hom with only a few indecomposables, rather than all.

2. Results

2.1. Two flags

In order to establish the notation for our main theorem in its full generality, we first state the classical theory for two flags.

Throughout this paper, all vector spaces are over a fixed field k of arbitrary characteristic, infinite but not necessarily algebraically closed; and we fix a vector space V of dimension n with standard basis e1, . . . ,en. Let b =(b1, . . . ,bq) be a list of positive integers with sum equal to n: that is, a composition of n. We denote by Flag(b) the variety of partial flags B =(0=B0B1⊂· · ·⊂Bq=V ) of vector subspaces in V such that

dim(Bi/Bi1)=bi (i =1, . . . ,q).

Flag(b) is a homogeneous space under the natural action of the general linear group GL(V )=GLn(k).

Let us fix two compositions of n, b=(b1, . . . ,bq) and c=(c1, . . . ,cr). The Schubert (or Bruhat) decomposition classifies the orbits of G L(V ) acting diagonally on the double flag variety Flag(b)×Flag(c). We index these orbits by transport matrices M =(mi j), which are q×r matrices of nonnegative integers mi j with row sums bi =

jmi j and column sums cj =

imi j(so that the sum of all entries is n). If b=c=(1, . . . ,1)=(1n), then Flag(b)×Flag(c) consists of pairs of full flags, and each transport matrix is the permutation matrix M =Mwcorresponding to awSn, with mw(i ),i=1 and mi j=0 otherwise.

Given a transport matrix M, we define the orbit FMFlag(b)×Flag(c) as the fol- lowing set of double flags (B,C). Given any basis of V with the n vectors indexed as:

V =

vi j k

(i,j )[q]×[r ] 1≤kmi j

, where [q]=[1,q] := {1,2, . . . ,q}, let

Bi := vij k|ii, Cj := vi jk | jj,

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where denotes linear span. As the basisvi j kvaries, (B,C) runs over all double flags in FM. In the case b = c =(1n), with M = Mw, we may takevi j 1 = vi for any basis v1, . . . , vnof V , and obtain the configuration type Fwfrom the Introduction.

We can also describe this orbit by intersection conditions:

FM = {(B,C)|dim(BiCj)=ri j(M)}, where

ri j(M) :=

(k,l) ki,lj

mkl

are the rank numbers. This characterization follows from Theorem 1 below.

These orbits cover the double flag variety:

Flag(b)×Flag(c)=

M

FM

where the union runs over all transport matrices M.

We shall need the following partial order on the matrix positions (i,j )∈[1,q]×[1,r ]:

we write

(i,j )(i,j)⇔ii and jj.

That is, the northwest positions are small, the southeast positions large. Also, (i,j )<(i,j) means (i,j )(i,j) and (i,j )=(i,j), a convention we will use when dealing with any partial order. Furthermore, for sets of positions, ⊂[1,q]×[1,r ] we let:

⇔ ∀(i,j )∈(i,j)∈ with (i,j )(i,j).

Now, the degeneration order or Ehresmann-Bruhat order on the set of all transport matrices describes how the orbits FMtouch each other:

MdegMF¯MF¯MFMF¯M,

where ¯FMdenotes the (Zariski) closure of FM. Our goal is to give a combinatorial charac- terization of this geometric order.

First, we approximate the degeneration order on double flags by comparing rank numbers.

We define:

MrkMri j(M)ri j(M) ∀(i,j )∈[1,q]×[1,r ].

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Second, we define certain moves on matrices which will turn out to be the covers of the degeneration order: that is, the relations Mdeg<· Msuch that Mdeg<MdegMM=M. Suppose we consider positions (i0,j0)≤(i1,j1) defining a rectangle

R=[i0,i1]×[ j0,j1]⊂[1,q]×[1,r ],

and we are given an M satisfying mi0j0,mi1j1 >0 and mi j =0 for all (i,j )R, (i,j )= (i0,j0),(i1,j1),(i0,j1),(i1,j0). Then the simple move on the matrix M, at the rectangle R, is the operation which produces the new matrix:

M=MEi0jjEi1j1+Ei0j1+Ei1j0,

where Ei jdenotes the coordinate matrix with 1 in position (i,j ) and 0 elsewhere. We write M<R·Mor Mmv<·M. Pictorially,

M =

j0 j1

i0

i1

... ...

· · · a 0· · ·0 b · · ·

0 0

... 0 ...

0 0

· · · c 0· · ·0 d · · · ... ...

<R· M=

j0 j1

i0

i1

... ...

· · · a−1 0· · ·0 b+1 · · ·

0 0

... 0 ...

0 0

· · · c+1 0· · ·0 d−1 · · ·

... ...

.

In the case where M is a permutation matrix, the simple move corresponds to multiplying by a transposition: if M is associated tow, then Mis associated tow=(i0,i1w=w· ( j0,j1), and the vanishing conditions on mi jassure that the Bruhat length(w)=(w)+1.

We say M, M are related by the move order, if, starting with M, we can perform a sequence of simple moves on various rectangles R1,R2, . . .to obtain M:

MmvMM<R·1M<R· · · ·2 M. Theorem 1 (Ehresmann-Chevalley)

(a) The three orders defined above are equivalent:

MdegMMrkMMmvM.

(b) The relation Mdeg<Mis a cover exactly when Mmv<·M.

We give a proof in Section 3. Once we have established the equivalences above, we call the common order the Bruhat order, written simply as MM.

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2.2. A line and two flags

We now state our main theorems. We consider GL(V ) acting diagonally onP(V )×Flag(b)×

Flag(c), the variety of triples of a line and two flags. We showed in  that the orbits correspond to the decorated matrices (M, ), meaning that M is a transport matrix, and

= {(i1,j1), . . . ,(it,jt)} ⊂[1,q]×[1,r ] is a set of matrix positions satisfying:

i1<i2<· · ·<it, j1> j2>· · ·> jt, and mi j>0 ∀(i,j ).

That is, the positions (i1,j1),(i2,j2), . . .proceed from northeast to southwest. We may concisely write down (M, ) by drawing a circle around the nonzero entries of M at the positions (i,j ).

The corresponding orbit FM,consists of the triple flags ( A,B,C) defined as follows.

Given a basisvi j kas above, the flags B,Care defined exactly as before (and thus depend only on M); and the line is defined as A :=

(i,j )∈vi j 1. Thus M indicates the relative

positions of the two flags B,C, andis a “decoration” on M indicating the position of the line A. Once again we have:

P(V )×Flag(b)×Flag(c)=

(M,)

FM,,

where (M, ) runs over all decorated matrices. We also define the degeneration order (M, )deg(M, ) as before.

Next we define the rank order. For ( A,B,C)∈FM,, we define a new rank number:

ri j(M, ) :=dim(BiCj)+dim( A(Bi+Cj))

=ri j(M)+δi j();

where we define:

δi j() :=

1 if≤ {(i,r ),(q,j )}

0 otherwise

=

0 if (i+1,j+1)≤ 1 otherwise.

We can extend this definition to (i,j )∈ [0,q]×[0,r ] by setting ri j(M) :=0 if i=0 or j=0, so that

ri 0(M, )=dim( A∩Bi)=δi 0(), r0 j(M, )=dim( ACj)=δ0 j().

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Now we let:

(M, )rk(M, )⇔ ri j(M)ri j(M)

ri j(M, )ri j(M, ) ∀(i,j )∈[0,q]×[0,r ].

Rank Theorem The degeneration order and the rank order are equivalent:

(M, )deg(M, )⇔(M, )rk(M, ).

That is,the triple flag ( A,B,C) is a degeneration of ( A,B,C) if and only if,for all (i,j )∈[0,q]×[0,r ],

dim(BiCj)≥dim(BiCj)

dim(BiCj)+dim( A(Bi+Cj))≥dim(BiCj)+dim( A(Bi+Cj)). 2.3. Simple moves

Below, we define simple moves of types (i)–(v) on a decorated matrix (M, ), each pro- ducing a new matrix (M, ), so that we write (M, )mv<·(M, ). Given these moves, we define the move order (M, )mv(M, ) as before.

Move Theorem The degeneracy order and the move order are equivalent:

(M, )deg(M, )⇔(M, )mv(M, ).

Again, we call the common order the Bruhat order.

Minimality Theorem The relation (M, )deg<(M,) is a cover exactly when (M,)mv<· (M,) for one of the simple moves (i)–(v).

We introduce an operation which normalizes an arbitrary subset S of matrix positions into a decorationof the prescribed form. For S⊂[1,q]×[1,r ], let:

[S] := {(i,j )S|(i,j )<(k,l)(k,l)∈S}

be the set of ≤-maximal positions in S. This operation is “explained” by the following lemma, proved in Section 5:

Lemma 1 (Uncircling lemma) If M is a transport matrix, S a set of matrix positions with mi j >0 for all (i,j )S, and we define ( A,B,C) by the same formulas as for a decorated matrix (namely A :=

(i,j )∈Svi j 1), then ( A,B,C)∈ FM,, where=[S].

It remains to define the five types of simple moves (M, )<(i)· (M, ), . . . ,(M, )(v)<· (M, ). Although geometrically, it is natural to think of the more general configuration degenerating to the more special one, combinatorially it is more convenient to describe

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the modification of the more special (smaller) element (M, ) to obtain the more general (larger) element (M, ).

In each case, we indicate the matrix positions in (M, ) modified by the move, and we list the requirements on M =(mi j) andfor the move to be valid. Then we specify the result of the move, (M, ).

(i) Suppose we have a position (i1,j1) ≤ , with mi1j1 > 0 and mi j = 0 whenever (i,j )<(i1,j1), (i,j )≤. Then define:

M:=M, :=[∪ {(i1,j1)}].

(M, )

∗ 0 · · · 0

... ... ∗ 0 0· · · 0 0 ...

... 0 0

0· · · 0 a

<(i)·

(M, )

∗ 0 · · · 0 ... ...

∗ 0 0· · ·0 0 ...

... 0 0

0· · · 0 a

where a=mi1j1>0, the symbol∗represents a matrix entry mi j>0, and a circle∗ around

∗=mi jmeans that (i,j ). The values of mi jare not changed by the move.

(ii) Suppose we have positions (i0,j0) < (i1,j1) with: mi0j0,mi1j1>0, and mi j = 0 whenever: (i0,j0)<(i,j )<(i1,j1), (i,j )=(i0,j1),(i1,j0). Suppose further that (i1,j1)∈

; (i0,j1)∈or (i1,j0)∈; and (i0,j0)∈or mi0j0 >1. Then define:

M:=MEi0j0Ei1j1+Ei0j1+Ei1j0, :=.

(M, ) a 0· · ·0 b

0 0

... 0 ...

0 0

c 0· · ·0 d

<(ii)·

(M, ) a−1 0· · ·0 b+1

0 0

... 0 ...

0 0

c+1 0· · ·0 d−1

Here a=mi0j0>0, d=mi1j1>0, a may be circled only if a>1, at most one of b,c is circled, and d is not circled. The positions of circles are unchanged by the move.

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(iii)(a) Suppose (i0,j0)<(i1,j1) with (i0,j0)∈, mi0j0 =1, mi1j1 >0, and mi j=0 whenever: (i0,j0)<(i,j )<(i1,j1), (i,j )=(i1,j0); and whenever (i,j )(i0,j1), (i,j ). Then define:

M:=MEi0j0Ei1j1+Ei0j1+Ei1j0, :=[∪ {(i0,j1)}].

(M, )

∗ 0 · · ·0

... ... ∗ 0 0· · · 0 ...

... 0

(i0,j0)

1 0 0

0 0

... 0 ...

0 0

a 0· · · 0 b

(i1,j1) (iii)

<·

(M, )

∗ 0 · · · 0

... ...

∗ 0 0· · ·0 ...

... 0

0 0 1

0 0

... 0 ...

0 0

a+1 0· · · 0 b−1

Here the1 on the left is at position (i0,j0), a=mi1j0, and b=mi1j1>0.

(iii)(b) The transpose of move (iii)(a). Suppose (i0,j0)<(i1,j1) with (i0,j0)∈, mi0j0= 1, mi1j1>0, and mi j=0 whenever: (i0,j0)<(i,j )<(i1,j1), (i,j )=(i0,j1); and whenever (i,j )(i1,j0), (i,j ). Then define:

M:=MEi0j0Ei1j1+Ei0j1+Ei1j0, :=[∪ {(i1,j0)}].

(M, )

(i0,j0)

1 0· · ·0 a 0 · · · 0 0

... ...

∗ 0 0

0· · · 0 ...

... 0

0· · · 0 0 0· · ·0 b

(i1,j1)

(iii)

<·

(M, )

0 0· · ·0 a+1 0 · · · 0 0

... ...

∗ 0 0

0· · ·0 ...

... 0

0· · · 0 1 0· · ·0 b−1 ∗

Here the1 on the left is at position (i0,j0), a=mi0j1, and b=mi1j1>0.

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(iv)(a) Suppose i0<i2<i1and j2<j0<j1 with (i0,j0),(i2,j2)∈, mi0j0=mi2j2=1, mi1j1 >0, and mi j=0 whenever: (i0,j2)<(i,j )<(i1,j1) and (i,j )and (i,j )= (i0,j1),(i1,j2). Then define:

M:=MEi0j0Ei1j1Ei2j2+Ei1j2+Ei2j0+Ei0j1, :=[∪ {(i2,j0)}].

(M, )

(i0,j0)

1 0· · ·0 b 0 · · · 0 0

... ...

∗ 0 0· · · 0

...

(i2,j2)1 0 0

0... ...

0 0

a 0· · · ·0 c(i

1,j1) (iv)<·

(M, )

0 0 · · ·0 b+1 0· · · 0 0

... ...

∗ 0 0· · · 0

...

0 0 1 (i2,j0)

0... ...

0 0

a+1 0· · · ·0 c−1

Here the coordinate markings indicate that on the left, the 1 ’s are at positions (i0,j0), (i2,j2), and c=mi1j1>0. The1 on the right is at position (i2,j0).

(iv)(bc) Suppose we have (i0,j0)<(i1,j1) with mi0j0,mi1,j1>0, and mi j=0 whenever:

(i0,j0) < (i,j )<(i1,j1), except for (i,j )=(i0,j1),(i1,j0) and one other position as specified below. Further suppose one of the following cases:

(b) we have i0<i2<i1with (i2,j0)∈, mi2j0=1, and (i0,j1)≤; or (c) we have j0<j2<j1with (i0,j2)∈, mi0j2=1, and (i1,j0)≤.

Then define:

M:=MEi0j0Ei1j1+Ei0j1+Ei1j0, :=.

This is the same as move (ii), except that it occurs in the presence of a1 at (i0,j2) or (i2,j0).

(b) (M, )

a 0· · ·0 b

0 0

... ... 01

0... ...

0 0

c 0· · ·0 d

(iv)<·

(M, ) a−1 0· · ·0 b+1

0 0

... ... 01

0... ...

0 0

c+1 0· · ·0 d−1

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Here b must not be circled, and there must be no circled element weakly southeast of b.

The move does not change the circled positions.

(c) (M, )

a 0· · ·01 0· · ·0 b

0 0

... ...

0 0

c 0· · · ·0 d

(iv)<·

(M, )

a−1 0· · ·01 0· · ·0 b+1

0 0

... ...

0 0

c+1 0· · · ·0 d−1

Here c must not be circled, and there must be no circled element weakly southeast of c. The move does not change the circled positions.

(v) Suppose, for t1, we have i0<i1<· · ·<it, and j1> j2>· · ·> jt > j0, with (i1,j1), . . . ,(it,jt)∈, mi0j0>0, and mi j=0 whenever: (i0,j0)<(i,j )(is−1,js−1) for some s=1, . . . ,t. Then define:

M:=MEi0j0Ei1j1− · · · −Eitjt +Ei0j1+Eitj0, :=D \ {(i0,j0),(i1,j1), . . . ,(it,jt)} ∪ {(i0,j1),(it,j0)}.

Here m+1 means m+1 circled, and∗means a value mi j≥0, which is unchanged by the move. Note that, in contrast to moves (i)–(iv), we have< .

2.4. Strategy of proof

We will prove the Rank and Move Theorems for triple flags by means of three “chain lemmas.”

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Lemma 2 (M, )mv(M, ) ⇒ (M, )deg(M, )

For (M, )<mv·(M, ), we will give an explicit degeneration of (M, ) to (M, ).

Lemma 3 (M, )deg(M, )(M, )rk(M, ) This will follow from general principles of algebraic geometry.

Lemma 4 (M, )rk(M, ) ⇒ (M, )mv(M, )

This is a purely combinatorial result. Given (M, )rk(M, ), we construct ( ˜M,) with˜ (M, )mv<·( ˜M ˜)rk(M, ).

3. Proof of Theorem 1

In order to prepare and illuminate the proofs of Lemmas 2–4 for triple flags, we give the precisely analogous arguments for the classical case of two flags, thereby proving Theorem 1.

Lemma 5 MmvMMdegM

Proof: Given Mmv<·M, it suffices to find a one-parameter algebraic family of double flags (B(τ),C(τ)), indexed byτk, such that:

(B(τ),C(τ))∈ FMforτ=0, (B(0),C(0))∈ FM.

Consider a basis of V indexed according to M =(mi j) as:

V = ei j k |(i,j )∈[1,q]×[1,r ],1≤kmi j,

and define a set of vectors indexed according to M=(mi j), {vi j k(τ)|(i,j )∈[1,q]×[1,r ],1≤kmi j}

as follows. Let us use the symbol ei j max to mean that the third subscript in ei j khas as large a value as possible, namely max=mi j; and similarlyvi j max means max=mi j. Now let:

vi0j1max(τ) :=ei0j0max +τei1j1max

vi1j0max(τ) :=ei0j0max

vi j k(τ) :=ei j k otherwise.

Forτ=0, let Bi(τ) := vij k |ii, Cj(τ) := vi jk | jj. Forτ=0, the set{vi j k} forms a basis of V , and with respect to this basis (B(τ),C(τ))∈FM.

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