# Kostant partition function

(Redirected from Kostant multiplicity formula)

In representation theory, a branch of mathematics, the Kostant partition function, introduced by Bertram Kostant (1958, 1959), of a root system $\Delta$ is the number of ways one can represent a vector (weight) as a non-negative integer linear combination of the positive roots $\Delta ^{+}\subset \Delta$ . Kostant used it to rewrite the Weyl character formula as a formula (the Kostant multiplicity formula) for the multiplicity of a weight of an irreducible representation of a semisimple Lie algebra. An alternative formula, that is more computationally efficient in some cases, is Freudenthal's forumula.

The Kostant partition function can also be defined for Kac–Moody algebras and has similar properties.

## An example

Consider the A2 root systems, with positive roots $\alpha _{1}$ , $\alpha _{2}$ , and $\alpha _{3}:=\alpha _{1}+\alpha _{2}$ . If an element $\mu$ can be expressed as a non-negative integer linear combination of $\alpha _{1}$ , $\alpha _{2}$ , and $\alpha _{3}$ , then since $\alpha _{3}=\alpha _{1}+\alpha _{2}$ , it can also be expressed as a non-negative integer linear combination of $\alpha _{1}$ and $\alpha _{2}$ :

$\mu =n_{1}\alpha _{1}+n_{2}\alpha _{2}$ with $n_{1}$ and $n_{2}$ being non-negative integers. This expression gives one way to write $\mu$ as a non-negative integer combination of positive roots; other expressions can be obtained by replacing $\alpha _{1}+\alpha _{2}$ with $\alpha _{3}$ some number of times. We can do the replacement $k$ times, where $0\leq k\leq \mathrm {min} (n_{1},n_{2})$ . Thus, if the Kostant partition function is denoted by $p$ , we obtain the formula

$p(n_{1}\alpha _{1}+n_{2}\alpha _{2})=1+\mathrm {min} (n_{1},n_{2})$ .

This result is shown graphically in the image at right. If an element $\mu$ is not of the form $\mu =n_{1}\alpha _{1}+n_{2}\alpha _{2}$ , then $p(\mu )=0$ .

## Relation to the Weyl character formula

### Inverting the Weyl denominator

For each root $\alpha$ and each $H\in {\mathfrak {h}}$ , we can formally apply the formula for the sum of a geometric series to obtain

${\frac {1}{1-e^{-\alpha (H)}}}=1+e^{-\alpha (H)}+e^{-2\alpha (H)}+\cdots$ where we do not worry about convergence—that is, the equality is understood at the level of formal power series. Using Weyl's denominator formula

${\sum _{w\in W}(-1)^{\ell (w)}e^{w\cdot \rho (H)}=e^{\rho (H)}\prod _{\alpha >0}(1-e^{-\alpha (H)})},$ we obtain a formal expression for the reciprocal of the Weyl denominator:

{\begin{aligned}{\frac {1}{\sum _{w\in W}(-1)^{\ell (w)}e^{w\cdot \rho (H)}}}&{}=e^{-\rho (H)}\prod _{\alpha >0}(1+e^{-\alpha (H)}+e^{-2\alpha (H)}+e^{-3\alpha (H)}+\cdots )\\&{}=e^{-\rho (H)}\sum _{\mu }p(\mu )e^{-\mu (H)}\end{aligned}} Here, the first equality is by taking a product over the positive roots of the geometric series formula and the second equality is by counting all the ways a given exponential $e^{\mu (H)}$ can occur in the product.

### Rewriting the character formula

This argument shows that we can convert the Weyl character formula for the irreducible representation with highest weight $\lambda$ :

$\operatorname {ch} (V)={\sum _{w\in W}(-1)^{\ell (w)}e^{w\cdot (\lambda +\rho )(H)} \over \sum _{w\in W}(-1)^{\ell (w)}e^{w\cdot \rho (H)}}$ from a quotient to a product:

$\operatorname {ch} (V)=\left(\sum _{w\in W}(-1)^{\ell (w)}e^{w\cdot (\lambda +\rho )(H)}\right)\left(e^{-\rho (H)}\sum _{\mu }p(\mu )e^{-\mu (H)}\right).$ ### The multiplicity formula

Using the preceding rewriting of the character formula, it is relatively easy to write the character as a sum of exponentials. The coefficients of these exponentials are the multiplicities of the corresponding weights. We thus obtain a formula for the multiplicity of a given weight $\mu$ in the irreducible representation with highest weight $\lambda$ :

$\mathrm {mult} (\mu )=\sum _{w\in W}(-1)^{\ell (w)}p(w\cdot (\lambda +\rho )-(\mu +\rho ))$ .

This result is the Kostant multiplicity formula.

The dominant term in this formula is the term $w=1$ ; the contribution of this term is $p(\lambda -\mu )$ , which is just the multiplicity of $\mu$ in the Verma module with highest weight $\lambda$ . If $\lambda$ is sufficiently far inside the fundamental Weyl chamber and $\mu$ is sufficiently close to $\lambda$ , it may happen that all other terms in the formula are zero. Specifically, unless $w\cdot (\lambda +\rho )$ is higher than $\mu +\rho$ , the value of the Kostant partition function on $w\cdot (\lambda +\rho )-(\mu +\rho )$ will be zero. Thus, although the sum is nominally over the whole Weyl group, in most cases, the number of nonzero terms is smaller than the order of the Weyl group.