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Soergel bimodules

Modules imitating the Iwahori–Hecke algebra

Soergel bimodules were introduced in 1992 by Wolfgang Soergel to study representations of Lie groups1). Computing tensor products between Soergel bimodules is formally equivalent to computations in the Iwahori–Hecke algebra. In fancy language: Soergel bimodules are a categorification of Iwahori–Hecke algebras. This phenomenon explains positivity properties of the latter.

Graphical calculus between Soergel bimodules2)

Here is a concrete example of this categorification: the Hecke algebra admits a basis $(b_w)$ called the Kazhdan-Lusztig basis. For a simple basis element $b_s$ we have $b_s^2=(v+v^{-1})b_s$ where $v$ is the formal parameter in the Hecke algebra. To each bw is associated a Soergel bimodule $B_w$. We have $$B_s⊗B_s≅B_s(1)+B_s(-1)$$ where $B_s(1)$ is a shift of $B_s$. This shift corresponds to the multiplication by $v$.

Elias–Williamson have developped a graphical calculus for Soergel bimodules (see the figure for an example).


A lovely introduction to Coxeter groups, the Hecke algebra and Soergel bimodules can be found here (Soergel bimodules in Section 4):

More ideas

The advantage in the landscape of modules is that one can speak about an indecomposable module (those which can not be written as direct sum of two others). These are precisely the Soergel bimodules with shift $B_w(k)$ and can be used as a natural basis in the space of bimodules.

Let us get a feeling what a Soergel bimodule looks like. A Soergel bimodule is associated to each element of a Coxeter group and an integer (the “shift”). Take for example the permutation group $S_n$. The simplest Soergel bimodule, corresponding to the identity, is $R=R[x_1,\ldots,x_n]$. For the simple transposition $s=(12)$ and shift -1, the corresponding Soergel bimodule is given by $$B_s(-1)=R⊗_{R_s}R,$$ where $R_s=R[x_1+x_2,x_1x_2,x_3,\ldots,x_n]$, the polynomials invariant under $s$.

1) Wolfgang Soergel: The combinatorics of Harish-Chandra bimodules, 1992,
2) Ben Elias and Geordie Williamson: Soergel Calculus, 2013,
soergel_bimodules.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/13 12:10 by alex_th