Barcelo, Hélène; Smith, Shelly

The discrete fundamental group of the order complex of $B_n$

J. Algebr. Comb. 27(4), 399-421 (2008)
DOI: 10.1007/s10801-007-0094-z


Summary: A few years ago Kramer and Laubenbacher introduced a discrete notion of homotopy for simplicial complexes. In this paper, we compute the discrete fundamental group of the order complex of the Boolean lattice. As it turns out, it is equivalent to computing the discrete homotopy group of the 1-skeleton of the permutahedron. To compute this group we introduce combinatorial techniques that we believe will be helpful in computing discrete fundamental groups of other polytopes. More precisely, we use the language of words, over the alphabet of simple transpositions, to obtain conditions that are necessary and sufficient to characterize the equivalence classes of cycles. The proof requires only simple combinatorial arguments. As a corollary, we also obtain a combinatorial proof of the fact that the first Betti number of the complement of the 3-equal arrangement is equal to $2 ^{ n - 3}( n ^{2} - 5 n+8) - 1$. This formula was originally obtained by Björner and Welker in 1995.


keywords permutahedron, Boolean lattice, homotopy groups, $A$-theory, subspace arrangements, symmetric group