Canonical Characters on Quasi-Symmetric Functions and Bivariate Catalan Numbers

  • Marcelo Aguiar
  • Samuel K. Hsiao


Every character on a graded connected Hopf algebra decomposes uniquely as a product of an even character and an odd character (Aguiar, Bergeron, and Sottile, math.CO/0310016). We obtain explicit formulas for the even and odd parts of the universal character on the Hopf algebra of quasi-symmetric functions. They can be described in terms of Legendre's beta function evaluated at half-integers, or in terms of bivariate Catalan numbers: $$C(m,n)={(2m)!(2n)!\over m!(m+n)!n!}\,.$$ Properties of characters and of quasi-symmetric functions are then used to derive several interesting identities among bivariate Catalan numbers and in particular among Catalan numbers and central binomial coefficients.