A Polynomial Invariant and Duality for Triangulations

  • Vyacheslav Krushkal
  • David Renardy
Keywords: Tutte polynomial, simplicial complex, duality, triangulation, cellular matroid, simplicial spanning tree.


The Tutte polynomial ${T}_G(X,Y)$ of a graph $G$ is a classical invariant, important in combinatorics and statistical mechanics. An essential feature of the Tutte polynomial is the duality for planar graphs $G$, $T_G(X,Y) = {T}_{G^*}(Y,X)$ where $G^*$ denotes the dual graph. We examine this property from the perspective of manifold topology, formulating polynomial invariants for higher-dimensional simplicial complexes. Polynomial duality for triangulations of a sphere follows as a consequence of Alexander duality. 

The main goal of this paper is to introduce and begin the study of a more general $4$-variable polynomial for triangulations and handle decompositions of orientable manifolds. Polynomial duality in this case is a consequence of Poincaré duality on manifolds. In dimension 2 these invariants specialize to the well-known polynomial invariants of ribbon graphs defined by B. Bollobás and O. Riordan. Examples and specific evaluations of the polynomials are discussed.

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