I’ll just note at the beginning, this post is a bit of an experiment. At this point, it is about a semi-finished research thought of mine (which I’m not 100% sure is original, but I’m putting it out on the internet at least in part hoping that the internet will be able to tell me whether it’s original or not), and will consequently probably be a bit more technical than the average post on this blog, but hopefully, at least a few of you will be able to follow me.
As many of you know, my co-blogger Joel recently posted a preprint (with Sabin Cautis), which constructs a knot homology theory using the geometry of coherent s heaves and Fourier-Mukai transforms on convolutions of minuscule orbits in the affine Grasmannian of .
On the other hand, last year, Catharina Stroppel published a couple of papers on the relationship between Khovanov’s original construction of “a functor valued invariant of tangles” and various flavors of category O. From what I understand, underlying this is a philosophy that the version of Khovanov-Rozansky will be related a block to category O that lies on a dimension -dimensional wall of the Weyl chamber of (where is a number relating to the number of strands in your tangle diagram).
One natural question leaps to mind: how are these related?
Underlying each of these categorifications of knot invariants is a categorification of the dth tensor power of the standard representation of . C&K use the category of coherent sheaves on the aforementioned convolution product of d copies of the minuscule stratum in the affine Grassmannian of , and Stroppel uses a direct sum of the principal blocks of parabolic category for all maximal parabolics of .
Now, one obvious way these ideas could relate to each other is that these could be “the same” categorification, that is, we could find an equivalence between these categories (or their derived categories, more likely). Unfortunately, this is just not the case. By definition, Stroppel’s category has a block for each weight space of the representation, and C&K’s category is irreducible (as a rule, the categories of coherent sheaves on varieties tend to be), so they can’t possibly be equivalent.
But what they could be is independent generalizations of Khovanov’s original invariant, since in both constructions, since that only depended on the 0 weight space of the representation. Perhaps a smaller part of these categories is equivalent. I believe this to be the case, at least when is even; allow me to explain why.
Now, when I talked to Joel about this a few weeks ago, he suggested the connection would go through a certain subvariety of the convolution variety under consideration, which I’ll call “the Springer fiber” to spare myself trouble. This variety is indeed a Springer fiber, for a nilpotent of Jordan type , and in fact an open subset of the convolution variety is the unique crepant resolution to the Slodowy slice transverse to that nilpotent orbit (if that means anything to you).
This is a reducible projective variety, its components are all smooth and have smooth pairwise intersection (which is not true of all Springer fibers), and they are indexed by Temperley-Lieb diagrams (though people are more likely to say “standard Young tableau of shape “). A more remarkable fact is the following:
Let be the direct sum of the structure sheaves of these components.
Theorem. The Ext-algebra is naturally isomorphic to Khovanov’s algebra .
I don’t think this theorem is in the literature (yet?), and I’m actually not 100% sure who to ascribe it to. It might be in the paper that Khovanov claimed 5 years ago in this paper that he and Paul Seidel were writing, and never published (hey, they’re busy guys), and it does seem the important ideas for the theorem above are due to Khovanov, even if he never wrote them down quite like that.
But that’s not the only place that has shown up. Let be the set of permutations on 2m letters whose insertion symbol (i.e. Q-symbol) is the standard tableau of shape whose lower row is (these are also in bijection with standard tableau of that shape by Robinson-Schensted). Let be minus the sum of the first m fundamental weights of , and let be the unique irreducible representation of with highest weight . Let .
Theorem. (Stroppel, Khovanov) The Ext-algebra is naturally isomorphic to .
Well, this is a pretty interesting statement. It certainly suggests that something is going on here, but as many people will attest, there is more information in a category than the Ext algebras in question. You also need to know about the structures on these algebras. If the natural -algebras on these algebras coincide, THEN you are cooking with gas.
Theorem? The triangulated subcategories of the derived category of coherent sheaves on the convolution variety and of category generated by the collections (where ranges over components of the Springer fiber) and by , where ranges over are isomorphic, with an isomorphism preserving the t-structure, and taking one collection to the other.
A suggestion of a proof in a moment. Though first I’ll ask a question: are Koszul rings intrinsically formal? This would allow us to conclude instantly that don’t these structures are formal, and we would be done.
We already know (by work of I. Frenkel, Khovanov and Stroppel on the algebraic side, I’m not so sure about the geometric) that after applying Grothendieck group, these collections will generate the invariants of our representation (the 2m-fold tensor product of the standard), and in fact, their classes are exactly the canonical basis (or maybe dual canonical; I’ve applied dualities too many times to feel sure), so this would be a not so surprising equivalence, but still pretty cool.
Proof? So, what we have to show is that these Ext-algebras have the same structure. I claim they are both formal (higher products all vanish). This is easy for category . By work of Soergel, any block of category has a graded version which is equivalent to the category of graded modules over a certain finite dimensional Koszul algebra, and simple objects correspond to pure ones under this correspondence. Thus, if we take a minimal projective resolution of the image of in this category, all its differentials will be of positive degree, and will be killed by applying to this same object. Thus, is indeed formal.
The geometric side of things is harder. The gist is as follows: the components of the Springer fiber aren’t completely random varieties. Indeed, they’re 1) holomorphic Lagrangian and 2) complete intersections, i.e. for each there’s a vector bundle of rank m (actually, the sum of m line bundles) and a section of said bundle which the component is the vanishing set of.
Thus, there is a vector bundle for each standard tableau of the right shape, and a locally free resolution of of the form
Calculating the Ext’s between these, we can take of the sum of these resolutions to , and get summands of the form
Now, on ,the bundle is isomorphic to and thus, a splitting as , with the differential vanishing on the first summand, and on the latter giving a locally free resolution of as a -module. Thus, we have a surjection of sheaves of dg-algebras from a locally free model for the sheaf Ext algebra to sheaf of dg-algebras with no differential, which is a direct sum of sheaves of the form , which have a flabby resolution by the Doulbeaut complex. Hodge theory shows that these summands are themselves formal (each is projective and thus Kähler). Q. E. D.?
Well, congrats to those of you who made it to the bottom. I hope some part of the above was illuminating.