Unimodality via Alternating Gamma Vectors

  • Charles Brittenham
  • Andrew T. Carroll
  • T. Kyle Petersen
  • Connor Thomas
Keywords: Unimodality, Sign-reversing involutions


For a polynomial with palindromic coefficients, unimodality is equivalent to having a nonnegative $g$-vector. A sufficient condition for unimodality is having a nonnegative $\gamma$-vector, though one can have negative entries in the $\gamma$-vector and still have a nonnegative $g$-vector.

In this paper we provide combinatorial models for three families of $\gamma$-vectors that alternate in sign. In each case, the $\gamma$-vectors come from unimodal polynomials with straightforward combinatorial descriptions, but for which there is no straightforward combinatorial proof of unimodality.

By using the transformation from $\gamma$-vector to $g$-vector, we express the entries of the $g$-vector combinatorially, but as an alternating sum. In the case of the $q$-analogue of $n!$, we use a sign-reversing involution to interpret the alternating sum, resulting in a manifestly positive formula for the $g$-vector. In other words, we give a combinatorial proof of unimodality. We consider this a "proof of concept" result that we hope can inspire a similar result for the other two cases, $\prod_{j=1}^n (1+q^j)$ and the $q$-binomial coefficient ${n\brack k}$.
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