Inventiones mathematicae

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 225–246

Gauss polynomials and the rotation algebra


  • Man-Duen Choi
    • Department of MathematicsUniversity of Toronto
  • George A. Elliott
    • Department of MathematicsUniversity of Toronto
    • Mathematics InstituteUniversity of Copenhagen
  • Noriko Yui
    • Department of MathematicsQueen's University at Kingston

DOI: 10.1007/BF01234419

Cite this article as:
Choi, M., Elliott, G.A. & Yui, N. Invent Math (1990) 99: 225. doi:10.1007/BF01234419


Newton's binomial theorem is extended to an interesting noncommutative setting as follows: If, in a ring,baab with γ commuting witha andb, then the (generalized) binomial coefficient\(\left( {\begin{array}{*{20}c} n \\ k \\ \end{array} } \right)_r \) arising in the expansion
$$\left( {a + b} \right)^n = \sum\limits_{k = 0}^n {\left( {\begin{array}{*{20}c} n \\ k \\ \end{array} } \right)} _\gamma a^{n - k} b^k $$
(resulting from these relations) is equal to the value at γ of the Gaussian polynomial
$$\left[ {\begin{array}{*{20}c} n \\ k \\ \end{array} } \right] = \frac{{\left[ n \right]}}{{\left[ k \right]\left[ {n - k} \right]}}$$
where [m]=(1-xm)(1-xm−1)...(1-x). (This is of course known in the case γ=1.)

From this it is deduced that in the (universal)C*-algebraAgq generated by unitariesu andv such thatvu=e2πiθuv, the spectrum of the self-adjoint element (u+v)+(u+v)* has all the gaps that have been predicted to exist-provided that either θ is rational, or θ is a Liouville number. (In the latter case, the gaps are labelled in the natural way-viaK-theory-by the set of all non-zero integers, and the spectrum is a Cantor set.)

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© Springer-Verlag 1996