Algebraic Shifting and Sequentially Cohen-Macaulay Simplicial Complexes

  • Art M. Duval


Björner and Wachs generalized the definition of shellability by dropping the assumption of purity; they also introduced the $h$-triangle, a doubly-indexed generalization of the $h$-vector which is combinatorially significant for nonpure shellable complexes. Stanley subsequently defined a nonpure simplicial complex to be sequentially Cohen-Macaulay if it satisfies algebraic conditions that generalize the Cohen-Macaulay conditions for pure complexes, so that a nonpure shellable complex is sequentially Cohen-Macaulay.

We show that algebraic shifting preserves the $h$-triangle of a simplicial complex $K$ if and only if $K$ is sequentially Cohen-Macaulay. This generalizes a result of Kalai's for the pure case. Immediate consequences include that nonpure shellable complexes and sequentially Cohen-Macaulay complexes have the same set of possible $h$-triangles.

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