# The Canonical Join Complex

### Abstract

A canonical join representation is a certain minimal "factorization" of an element in a finite lattice $L$ analogous to the prime factorization of an integer from number theory. The expression $\bigvee A =w$ is the canonical join representation of $w$ if $A$ is the unique lowest subset of $L$ satisfying $\bigvee A=w$ (where "lowest" is made precise by comparing order ideals under containment). Canonical join representations appear in many familiar guises, with connections to comparability graphs and noncrossing partitions. When each element in $L$ has a canonical join representation, we define the canonical join complex to be the abstract simplicial complex of subsets $A$ such that $\bigvee A$ is a canonical join representation. We characterize the class of finite lattices whose canonical join complex is flag, and show how the canonical join complex is related to the topology of $L$.