Combinatorics of the Free Baxter Algebra

  • Marcelo Aguiar
  • Walter Moreira


We study the free (associative, non-commutative) Baxter algebra on one generator. The first explicit description of this object is due to Ebrahimi-Fard and Guo. We provide an alternative description in terms of a certain class of trees, which form a linear basis for this algebra. We use this to treat other related cases, particularly that in which the Baxter map is required to be quasi-idempotent, in a unified manner. Each case corresponds to a different class of trees.

Our main focus is on the underlying combinatorics. In several cases, we provide bijections between our various classes of trees and more familiar combinatorial objects including certain Schröder paths and Motzkin paths. We calculate the dimensions of the homogeneous components of these algebras (with respect to a bidegree related to the number of nodes and the number of angles in the trees) and the corresponding generating series. An important feature is that the combinatorics is captured by the idempotent case; the others are obtained from this case by various binomial transforms. We also relate free Baxter algebras to Loday's dendriform trialgebras and dialgebras. We show that the free dendriform trialgebra (respectively, dialgebra) on one generator embeds in the free Baxter algebra with a quasi-idempotent map (respectively, with a quasi-idempotent map and an idempotent generator). This refines results of Ebrahimi-Fard and Guo.

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