# 16.2. Definition. Let N be the set of all nilpotent elements in g. Define N

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1 Lecture 16: Springer Representations The flag manifold. Let G = SL n (C). It acts transitively on the set F of complete flags 0 F 1 F n 1 C n and the stabilizer of the standard flag is the standared Borel subgroup B of (determinant = 1) upper triangular matrices, giving an isomorphism F = G/B. The Lie algebras are g (matrices with trace = 0) and b = upper triangular matrices with trace = 0. If x G and xbx 1 = B then x B. So we may identify F with the set B of all subgroups of G that are conjugate to B or equivalently to the set of all subalgebras of g that are conjugate to b, that is, the variety of Borel subalgebras of g Definition. Let N be the set of all nilpotent elements in g. Define Ñ={(x N, A B) x Lie(A)} π N ϕ B The mapping π is proper and its fibers B x = π 1 (x) are called Springer fibers. In a remarkable series of papers [Springer 1976, 1978], T. A. Springer constructed an action of the symmetric group W on the cohomology of each Springer fiber B x, even though W does not actually act on B x. Let A be the subgroup that preserves a flag F A = (0 = A 0 A 1 A n = C n ) then the following are equivalent: (1) (x, A) Ñ (2) x Lie(A) (3) exp(x) preserves the flag F A (4) the vectorfield V x (defined by x) on the flag manifold F vanishes on F A (5) xa j A j 1 for 1 j n. So the Springer fiber π 1 (x) is the zero set of the vectorfield V x ; it is the set of all flags that are preserved by x and is often referred to as the variety of fixed flags. For the subregular nilpotent x g the Springer fiber turns out to be a string of n 1 copies of P 1, each joined to the next at a single point. [picture] Lemma. The mapping ϕ : Ñ B identifies Ñ with the cotangent bundle to the flag manifold. Proof. The tangent space at the identity to F is T I (G/B) = g/b. So its dual space is T I (G/B) = {ϕ : g C ϕ(b) = 0}. The canonical inner product, : g g C given by x, y = Trace(xy) is symmetric and nondegenerate. Using this to identify g with g gives T I (G/B) = {x g x, b = 0} = n

2 75 Figure 10. Tonny Springer is the algebra of strictly upper triangular matrices, that is, the nilradical of b. So for each Borel subgroup A G, the cotangent space TA (G/B) = n(a) is naturally isomorphic to the nilradical of Lie(A). But this is exactly the fiber, ϕ 1 (A) The group G acts on everything in the diagram (16.2). It acts transitively on B and it acts with finitely many orbits on N, each of which is a nilpotent conjugacy class. These form a Whitney stratification of N by complex algebraic strata. It follows from Jordan normal form that each nilpotent conjugacy class corresponds to a partition λ 1 λ 2 λ r with λ i = n or equivalently to a Young frame Stratum closure relations correspond to refinement of partitions with the largest stratum corresponding to the case of a single Jordan block (λ 1 = n) and the smallest stratum corresponding to 0 N, which is the partition = n.

3 The Grothendieck simultaneous resolution is the pair g = {(x, A) g B x A} π g Given (x, A) g choose h G which conjugates A into the standard Borel subgroup B. It conjugates x into an element x Lie(B) and the diagonal entries α = α(x) t are well defined where t is the set of diagonal matrices with trace = 0. On the other hand, the characteristic polynomial ch(x) of x is determined by the diagonal matrix α but is independent of the order of the entries. The set of possible characteristic polynomials forms a vector space, with coordinates given by the coefficients of the characteristic polynomial, which provides an example of a remarkable theorem of Chevalley (cf. that the quotient t/w is again an affine space. The nilpotent elements N in g map to zero in t/w. In summary we have a diagram Ñ g α t π N π p g ch t/w Theorem (Grothendieck, Lusztig, Slowdowy). The map π : g g is small. The map π : Ñ N is semi-small. For each A t the map π : α 1 (A) ch 1 (p(a)) is a resolution of singularities Adjoint quotient. There is another way to view the map ch. Each x g has a unique Jordan decomposition x = x s + x n into commuting semisimple and nilpotent elements. Then x s is conjugate to an element of t, and the resulting element is well defined up to the action of W. The quotient t/w turns out to be isomorphic to the geometric invariant theory quotient g//g and the map ch : g t/w is called the adjoint quotient map. The vector space t consists of diagonal matrices A = diag(a 1,, a n ) with trace zero. The reflecting hyperplanes are the subspaces H ij = {A a i = a j } where two entries coincide and they are permuted by the action of W. Their image in t/w is the discriminant variety Disc consisting of all (characteristic) polynomials with multiple roots. The complement of the set i j H ij is sometimes called the configuration space of n ordered points in C; its fundamental group is the colored braid group. The complement of the discriminant variety in t/w is the configuration space of n unordered points, and its fundamental group is the braid group. Suppose x g rs g is regular and semisimple, meaning that its eigenspaces E 1, E 2,, E n are distinct and form a basis of C n. Then the flag E 1 E 1 E 2 E 1 E 2 E 3 is fixed by x and every fixed flag has this form, for some ordering of the eigenspaces. Therefore there are n! fixed flags and the symmetric group permutes them according to the regular representation.

4 16.8. Springer s representation. Since π is a small map, we have a canonical isomorphism R π (Q g [n]) = IC (g; L), the intersection cohomology sheaf on g, constructible with respect to a stratification of π, with coefficients in the local system L over the regular semisimple elements whose fiber at x g rs is the direct sum F Q F of copies of Q, one for each fixed flag. The symmetric group W acts on L which induces an action on IC (L) and therefore also on the stalk cohomology at each point y g, that is, on H r (R π (Q g ) y = H r ( π 1 (y)) = IH r (g; L) y. For y N this action of W on H (π 1 (y)) turns out to coincide with Springer s representation. The decomposition theorem for the semismall map π provides an enormous amount of information about these representations Decomposition theorem for semismall maps. Recall that a proper algebraic morphism f : X Y is semismall if it can be stratified so that 2 dim C f 1 (y) cod(s) for each stratum S Y, where y S. This implies that dim(x) = dim(y ) and, if X is nonsingular, that Rf (Q X ) is perverse on Y. A stratum S Y is said to be relevant if 2d = cod(s) where d = dim f 1 (y). In this case, the top degree cohomology H 2d (f 1 (y) forms a local system L S on the stratum S. The following result is due to W. Borho and R. MacPherson Proposition. Suppose f : X Y is semismall and X is nonsingular of complex dimension d. Then the decomposition theorem has the following special form: Rf (Q x )[d] = IC S(L S ) S where the sum is over those strata S that are relevant (with no shifts, if we use Deligne s numbering). In particular, the endomorphism algebra of this sheaf End(Rf (Q X )[d]) = S End S(L S ) is isomorphic to the direct sum of the endomorphism algebras of the individual local systems L S. 77 Proof. The top stratum, Y o is always relevant. If no other strata is relevant then the map is small. In Lecture [??] we described a standard technique of proof (let us call this Proof no. 1 ) which implies that Rf (Q X [d]) = IC Y (L Y o). So there is only one term in the decompsition theorem. Now suppose the next relevant stratum has codimension c so that the fiber over points in this stratum has (complex) dimension d = c/2 (and in particular, the complex codimension c is even). One term in the decomposition theorem is IC Y (L Y o). Consider the support diagram (e.g. if c = 4): From this diagram we can see that a new summand must be added to the decomposition, and it is the local system H 4 (f 1 (y)) = H 2d (f 1 (y) = L S arising from the top cohomology of the

5 78 i j cod C 0 cod C 1 cod C 2 cod C 3 cod C 4 H (f 1 (y)) 8 4 c c c c c 7 3 c c c 6 2 c c 5 1 c H 4 (f 1 (y)) 3-1 x H 3 (f 1 (y)) 2-2 x x H 2 (f 1 (y)) 1-3 x x x H 1 (f 1 (y)) 0-4 x x x x x H 0 (f 1 (y)) IC support fiber, that is, from the irreducible components of the fiber. This local system on S gives rise to the summand IC S(L S ) over the whole of the closure S Y. Let U S = T S be the open set consisting of S together with the strata larger than S. We have constructed an isomorphism of Rf (Q X ) with Rf (Q X [d]) = IC Y (L Y o) IC S(L S ) over the open set U S. The exact same method as in Proof No.1 shows that this isomorphism extends uniquely to an isomorphism over the larger open set that contains additional (smaller) strata until we come to the next relevant stratum. Continuing in this way by induction gives the desired decomposition. Finally, if L R, L S are local systems on distinct strata R, S of Y then Hom D b c (Y )(IC R(L R ), IC S(L S )) = 0 which implies that the endomorphism algebra of this direct sum decomposes into a direct sum of endomorphism algebras Some conclusions. Let d = dim(g/b) = n(n 1)/2. For the SL n adjoint quotient Rπ (QÑ[d]) = S IC (S; L S ) (1) Every stratum S is relevant: for x S, 2 dim(b x ) = cod(s). (2) The odd cohomology of each Springer fiber H 2r+1 (B x ) = 0 vanishes. (3) Let S be a stratum corresponding to some partition (or Young frame) λ = λ(s). Then the Springer action on the top cohomology H cod(s) (B x ) is the irreducible representation ρ λ corresponding to λ (modulo possible notational normalization involving transpose of the partition and tensoring with the sign representation). [Note: this representation is not (cannot) be realized via permutations of the components of B x, but the components give, nevertheless, a basis for the representation.] (4) Every irreducible representation of W occurs in this decomposition, and it occurs with multiplicity one.

6 (5) The local systems occurring in the decomposition theorem (SL n case only!) are all trivial. (6) Putting these facts together, let S λ denote the stratum in N corresponding to the partition λ. Then, using classical degree indices, the decomposition theorem in this case becomes: 79 Rπ (Q d) = λ IC (S λ )[ 2d λ ] V λ where V λ is the (space of the) irreducible representation ρ λ of W and d λ is the complex dimension of the stratum S λ. (7) Applying stalk cohomology at a point x S µ to this formula gives: H i (B x ) = λ µ IH i 2d λ y (S λ ) V λ. Consequently, if an irreducible representation ρ λ of W occurs in H (B x ) then the stratum S µ containing x is in the closure of the stratum S λ corresponding to ρ. (8) More generally, suppose R < S are strata corresponding to partitions µ, λ respectively and let x R. Then dim IH i 2d λ (S) x is the multiplicity of the representation ρ λ in the cohomology H i (B x ) of the Springer fiber B x. In fact the Poincaré polynomial of these multiplicities P λ,µ (t) = i mult(ρ λ, H 2i (B x ))t i = i rank(ih 2i (S) x )t i turns out to be the Kostka-Foulkes polynomial. (9) For x = 0 N the Springer fiber B x = G/B is the full flag variety and the representation of W is the regular representation. Moreover, the full endomorphism algebra End(Rπ (QÑ) = C[W ] is isomorphic to the full group-algebra of the Weyl group, with its regular representation.

7 80 degee rank Young H 12 (G/B) 1 H 10 (G/B) 3 H 8 (G/B) 5 H 6 (G/B) 6 H 4 (G/B) 5 H 2 (G/B) 3 H 0 (G/B) 1 Figure 11. Springer representations for SL 4. Each rep occurs as often as its dimension Even for the W action on the full flag manifold B = G/B these results are startling. In this case it had been shown by Borel and Leray that the action of W was the regular representation, but which irreducible factors appeared in which degrees of cohomology had appeared to be a total mystery. Many computations were done by hand and the result appeared to be random. The above conclusions explain that the multiplicity of each representation ρ λ in H i (G/B) is given by the rank of the local intersection cohomology, in degree i, at the origin o N of the stratum S that corresponds to the partition λ.

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