Orphans in Forests of Linear Fractional Transformations

  • Sandie Han
  • Ariane M. Masuda
  • Satyanand Singh
  • Johann Thiel
Keywords: Continued fractions, Calkin-Wilf tree, Linear fractional transformations


A positive linear fractional transformation (PLFT) is a function of the form $f(z)=\frac{az+b}{cz+d}$ where $a,b,c$ and $d$ are nonnegative integers with determinant $ad-bc\neq 0$. Nathanson generalized the notion of the Calkin-Wilf tree to PLFTs and used it to partition the set of PLFTs into an infinite forest of rooted trees. The roots of these PLFT Calkin-Wilf trees are called orphans. In this paper, we provide a combinatorial formula for the number of orphans with fixed determinant $D$. In addition, we derive a method for determining the orphan ancestor of a given PLFT. Lastly, taking $z$ to be a complex number, we show that every positive complex number has finitely many ancestors in the forest of complex $(u,v)$-Calkin-Wilf trees.

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