, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 173-191
Date: 03 Nov 2008

Matching polytopes, toric geometry, and the totally non-negative Grassmannian

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In this paper we use toric geometry to investigate the topology of the totally non-negative part of the Grassmannian, denoted (Gr k,n )≥0. This is a cell complex whose cells Δ G can be parameterized in terms of the combinatorics of plane-bipartite graphs G. To each cell Δ G we associate a certain polytope P(G). The polytopes P(G) are analogous to the well-known Birkhoff polytopes, and we describe their face lattices in terms of matchings and unions of matchings of G. We also demonstrate a close connection between the polytopes P(G) and matroid polytopes. We use the data of P(G) to define an associated toric variety X G . We use our technology to prove that the cell decomposition of (Gr k,n )≥0 is a CW complex, and furthermore, that the Euler characteristic of the closure of each cell of (Gr k,n )≥0 is 1.

Alexander Postnikov was supported in part by NSF CAREER Award DMS-0504629. David Speyer was supported by a research fellowship from the Clay Mathematics Institute. Lauren Williams was supported in part by the NSF.