A New Approach for Examining $q$-Steiner Systems
One of the most intriguing problems in $q$-analogs of designs and codes is the existence question of an infinite family of $q$-analog of Steiner systems (spreads not included) in general, and the existence question for the $q$-analog of the Fano plane in particular.
We exhibit a completely new method to attack this problem. In the process we define a new family of designs whose existence is implied by the existence of $q$-Steiner systems, but could exist even if the related $q$-Steiner systems do not exist.
The method is based on a possible system obtained by puncturing all the subspaces of the $q$-Steiner system several times. We define the punctured system as a new type of design and enumerate the number of subspaces of various types that it might have. It will be evident that its existence does not imply the existence of the related $q$-Steiner system. On the other hand, this type of design demonstrates how close can we get to the related $q$-Steiner system.
Necessary conditions for the existence of such designs are presented. These necessary conditions will be also necessary conditions for the existence of the related $q$-Steiner system. Trivial and nontrivial direct constructions and a nontrivial recursive construction for such designs are given. Some of the designs have a symmetric structure, which is uniform in the dimensions of the existing subspaces in the system. Most constructions are based on this uniform structure of the design or its punctured designs.