Roots of unity and the Big Picture

All lattices in the moonshine picture are number-like, that is of the form $M \frac{g}{h}$ with $M$ a positive integer and $0 \leq g < h$ with $(g,h)=1$. To understand the action of the Bost-Connes algebra on the Big Picture it is sometimes better to view the lattice $M \frac{g}{h}$ as a primitive $h$-th root of unity, centered at $hM$.

The distance from $M$ to any of the lattices $M \frac{g}{h}$ is equal to $2 log(h)$, and the distances from $M$ and $M \frac{g}{h}$ to $hM$ are all equal to $log(h)$.

For a prime value $h$, these $h$ lattices are among the $h+1$ lattices branching off at $hM$ in the $h$-adic tree (the remaining one being $h^2M$).

For general $h$ the situation is more complex. Here’s the picture for $h=6$ with edges in the $2$-adic tree painted blue, those in the $3$-adic tree red.

\xymatrix{& & M \frac{1}{2} \ar@[blue]@{-}[d] & \\
& M \ar@[blue]@{-}[r] \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & 2M \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & M \frac{1}{6} \ar@[red]@{-}[d] \\
M \frac{1}{3} \ar@[red]@{-}[r] & 3M \ar@[blue]@{-}[r] \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & \boxed{6 M} \ar@[blue]@{-}[r] & 3M \frac{1}{2} \ar@[red]@{-}[d] \\ & M \frac{2}{3} & & M \frac{5}{6}} \]

To describe the moonshine group $(n|h)+e,f,\dots$ (an example was worked out in the tetrahedral snake post), we need to study the action of base-change with the matrix
x = \begin{bmatrix} 1 & \frac{1}{h} \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \]
which sends a lattice of the form $M \frac{g}{h}$ with $0 \leq g < h$ to $M \frac{g+M}{h}$, so is a rotation over $\frac{2 \pi M}{h}$ around $h M$. But, we also have to describe the base-change action with the matrix \[ y = \begin{bmatrix} 1 & 0 \\ n & 1 \end{bmatrix} \] and for this we better use the second description of the lattice as $M \frac{g}{h}=(\frac{g'}{h},\frac{1}{h^2M})$ with $g'$ the multiplicative inverse of $g$ modulo $h$. Under the action by $y$, the second factor $\frac{1}{h^2M}$ will be fixed, so this time we have to look at all lattices of the form $(\frac{g}{h},\frac{1}{h^2M})$ with $0 \leq g < h$, which again can be considered as another set of $h$-th roots of unity, centered at $hM$. Here's this second interpretation for $h=6$: \[ \xymatrix{M \frac{5}{6} \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & & 4M \frac{1}{3} \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & \\ 3M \frac{1}{2} \ar@[blue]@{-}[r] \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & \boxed{6M} \ar@[blue]@{-}[r] \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & 12 M \ar@[red]@{-}[r] \ar@[red]@{-}[d] & 4 M \frac{2}{3} \\ M \frac{1}{6} & 18 M \ar@[blue]@{-}[r] \ar@[blue]@{-}[d] & 36 M & \\ & 9M \frac{1}{2} & & } \] Under $x$ the first set of $h$-th roots of unity centered at $hM$ is permuted, whereas $y$ permutes the second set of $h$-th roots of unity.
These interpretations can be used to spot errors in computing the finite groups $\Gamma_0(n|h)/\Gamma_0(n.h)$.

Here’s part of the calculation of the action of $y$ on the $(360|1)$-snake (which consists of $60$-lattices).

First I got a group of order roughly $600.000$. After correcting some erroneous cycles, the order went down to 6912.

Finally I spotted that I mis-numbered two lattices in the description of $x$ and $y$, and the order went down to $48$ as it should, because I knew it had to be equal to $C_2 \times C_2 \times A_4$.

nc-geometry and moonshine?

A well-known link between Conway’s Big Picture and non-commutative geometry is given by the Bost-Connes system.

This quantum statistical mechanical system encodes the arithmetic properties of cyclotomic extensions of $\mathbb{Q}$.

The corresponding Bost-Connes algebra encodes the action by the power-maps on the roots of unity.

It has generators $e_n$ and $e_n^*$ for every natural number $n$ and additional generators $e(\frac{g}{h})$ for every element in the additive group $\mathbb{Q}/\mathbb{Z}$ (which is of course isomorphic to the multiplicative group of roots of unity).

The defining equations are
e_n.e(\frac{g}{h}).e_n^* = \rho_n(e(\frac{g}{h})) \\
e_n^*.e(\frac{g}{h}) = \Psi^n(e(\frac{g}{h}).e_n^* \\
e(\frac{g}{h}).e_n = e_n.\Psi^n(e(\frac{g}{h})) \\
e_n.e_m=e_{nm} \\
e_n^*.e_m^* = e_{nm}^* \\
e_n.e_m^* = e_m^*.e_n~\quad~\text{if $(m,n)=1$}

Here $\Psi^n$ are the power-maps, that is $\Psi^n(e(\frac{g}{h})) = e(\frac{ng}{h}~mod~1)$, and the maps $\rho_n$ are given by
\rho_n(e(\frac{g}{h})) = \sum e(\frac{i}{j}) \]
where the sum is taken over all $\frac{i}{j} \in \mathbb{Q}/\mathbb{Z}$ such that $n.\frac{i}{j}=\frac{g}{h}$.

Conway’s Big Picture has as its vertices the (equivalence classes of) lattices $M,\frac{g}{h}$ with $M \in \mathbb{Q}_+$ and $\frac{g}{h} \in \mathbb{Q}/\mathbb{Z}$.

The Bost-Connes algebra acts on the vector-space with basis the vertices of the Big Picture. The action is given by:
e_n \ast \frac{c}{d},\frac{g}{h} = \frac{nc}{d},\rho^m(\frac{g}{h})~\quad~\text{with $m=(n,d)$} \\
e_n^* \ast \frac{c}{d},\frac{g}{h} = (n,c) \times \frac{c}{nd},\Psi^{\frac{n}{m}}(\frac{g}{h})~\quad~\text{with $m=(n,c)$} \\
e(\frac{a}{b}) \ast \frac{c}{d},\frac{g}{h} = \frac{c}{d},\Psi^c(\frac{a}{b}) \frac{g}{h}

This connection makes one wonder whether non-commutative geometry can shed a new light on monstrous moonshine?

This question is taken up by Jorge Plazas in his paper Non-commutative geometry of groups like $\Gamma_0(N)$

Plazas shows that the bigger Connes-Marcolli $GL_2$-system also acts on the Big Picture. An intriguing quote:

“Our interest in the $GL_2$-system comes from the fact that its thermodynamic properties encode the arithmetic theory of modular functions to an extend which makes it possible for us to capture aspects of moonshine theory.”

Looks like the right kind of paper to take along when I disappear next week for some time in the French mountains…

The Big Picture is non-commutative

Conway’s Big Picture consists of all pairs of rational numbers $M,\frac{g}{h}$ with $M > 0$ and $0 \leq \frac{g}{h} < 1$ with $(g,h)=1$. Recall from last time that $M,\frac{g}{h}$ stands for the lattice
\mathbb{Z} (M \vec{e}_1 + \frac{g}{h} \vec{e}_2) \oplus \mathbb{Z} \vec{e}_2 \subset \mathbb{Q}^2 \]
and we associate to it the rational $2 \times 2$ matrix
\alpha_{M,\frac{g}{h}} = \begin{bmatrix} M & \frac{g}{h} \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \]

If $M$ is a natural number we write $M \frac{g}{h}$ and call the corresponding lattice number-like, if $g=0$ we drop the zero and write $M$.

The Big Picture carries a wealth of structures. Today, we will see that it can be factored as the product of Bruhat-Tits buildings for $GL_2(\mathbb{Q}_p)$, over all prime numbers $p$.

Here’s the factor-building for $p=2$, which is a $3$-valent tree:

To see this, define the distance between lattices to be
d(M,\frac{g}{h}~|~N,\frac{i}{j}) = log~Det(q(\alpha_{M,\frac{g}{h}}.\alpha_{N,\frac{i}{j}}^{-1})) \]
where $q$ is the smallest strictly positive rational number such that $q(\alpha_{M,\frac{g}{h}}.\alpha_{N,\frac{i}{j}}^{-1}) \in GL_2(\mathbb{Z})$.

We turn the Big Picture into a (coloured) graph by drawing an edge (of colour $p$, for $p$ a prime number) between any two lattices distanced by $log(p)$.

\xymatrix{M,\frac{g}{h} \ar@[red]@{-}[rr]|p & & N,\frac{i}{j}} \qquad~\text{iff}~\qquad d(M,\frac{g}{h}~|~N,\frac{i}{j})=log(p) \]

The $p$-coloured subgraph is $p+1$-valent.

The $p$-neighbours of the lattice $1 = \mathbb{Z} \vec{e}_1 \oplus \mathbb{Z} \vec{e}_2$ are precisely these $p+1$ lattices:

p \qquad \text{and} \qquad \frac{1}{p},\frac{k}{p} \qquad \text{for} \qquad 0 \leq k < p \] And, multiplying the corresponding matrices with $\alpha_{M,\frac{g}{h}}$ tells us that the $p$-neighbours of $M,\frac{g}{h}$ are then these $p+1$ lattices: \[ pM,\frac{pg}{h}~mod~1 \qquad \text{and} \qquad \frac{M}{p},\frac{1}{p}(\frac{g}{h}+k)~mod~1 \qquad \text{for} \qquad 0 \leq k < p \] Here's part of the $2$-coloured neighbourhood of $1$

To check that the $p$-coloured subgraph is indeed the Bruhat-Tits building of $GL_2(\mathbb{Q}_p)$ it remains to see that it is a tree.

For this it is best to introduce $p+1$ operators on lattices

p \ast \qquad \text{and} \qquad \frac{k}{p} \ast \qquad \text{for} \qquad 0 \leq k < p \] defined by left-multiplying $\alpha_{M,\frac{g}{h}}$ by the matrices \[ \begin{bmatrix} p & 0 \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \qquad \text{and} \qquad \begin{bmatrix} \frac{1}{p} & \frac{k}{p} \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \qquad \text{for} \qquad 0 \leq k < p \] The lattice $p \ast M,\frac{g}{h}$ lies closer to $1$ than $M,\frac{g}{h}$ (unless $M,\frac{g}{h}=M$ is a number) whereas the lattices $\frac{k}{p} \ast M,\frac{g}{h}$ lie further, so it suffices to show that the $p$ operators \[ \frac{0}{p} \ast,~\frac{1}{p} \ast,~\dots~,\frac{p-1}{p} \ast \] form a free non-commutative monoid.
This follows from the fact that the operator
(\frac{k_n}{p} \ast) \circ \dots \circ (\frac{k_2}{p} \ast) \circ (\frac{k_1}{p} \ast) \]
is given by left-multiplication with the matrix
\begin{bmatrix} \frac{1}{p^n} & \frac{k_1}{p^n}+\frac{k_2}{p^{n-1}}+\dots+\frac{k_n}{p} \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \]
which determines the order in which the $k_i$ occur.

A lattice at distance $n log(p)$ from $1$ can be uniquely written as
(\frac{k_{n-l}}{p} \ast) \circ \dots \circ (\frac{k_{l+1}}{p} \ast) \circ (p^l \ast) 1 \]
which gives us the unique path to it from $1$.

The Big Picture itself is then the product of these Bruhat-Tits trees over all prime numbers $p$. Decomposing the distance from $M,\frac{g}{h}$ to $1$ as
d(M,\frac{g}{h}~|~1) = n_1 log(p_1) + \dots + n_k log(p_k) \]
will then allow us to find minimal paths from $1$ to $M,\frac{g}{h}$.

But we should be careful in drawing $2$-dimensional cells (or higher dimensional ones) in this ‘product’ of trees as the operators
\frac{k}{p} \ast \qquad \text{and} \qquad \frac{l}{q} \ast \]
for different primes $p$ and $q$ do not commute, in general. The composition
(\frac{k}{p} \ast) \circ (\frac{l}{q} \ast) \qquad \text{with matrix} \qquad \begin{bmatrix} \frac{1}{pq} & \frac{kq+l}{pq} \\ 0 & 1 \end{bmatrix} \]
has as numerator in the upper-right corner $0 \leq kq + l < pq$ and this number can be uniquely(!) written as \[ kq+l = up+v \qquad \text{with} \qquad 0 \leq u < q,~0 \leq v < p \] That is, there are unique operators $\frac{u}{q} \ast$ and $\frac{v}{p} \ast$ such that \[ (\frac{k}{p} \ast) \circ (\frac{l}{q} \ast) = (\frac{u}{q} \ast) \circ (\frac{v}{p} \ast) \] which determine the $2$-cells \[ \xymatrix{ \bullet \ar@[blue]@{-}[rr]^{\frac{u}{q} \ast} \ar@[red]@{-}[dd]_{\frac{v}{p} \ast} & & \bullet \ar@[red]@{-}[dd]^{\frac{k}{p} \ast} \\ & & \\ \bullet \ar@[blue]@{-}[rr]_{\frac{l}{q} \ast} & & \bullet} \] These give us the commutation relations between the free monoids of operators corresponding to different primes.
For the primes $2$ and $3$, relevant in the description of the Moonshine Picture, the commutation relations are

(\frac{0}{2} \ast) \circ (\frac{0}{3} \ast) = (\frac{0}{3} \ast) \circ (\frac{0}{2} \ast), \quad
(\frac{0}{2} \ast) \circ (\frac{1}{3} \ast) = (\frac{0}{3} \ast) \circ (\frac{1}{2} \ast),
(\frac{0}{2} \ast) \circ (\frac{2}{3} \ast) = (\frac{1}{3} \ast) \circ (\frac{0}{2} \ast) \]

(\frac{1}{2} \ast) \circ (\frac{0}{3} \ast) = (\frac{1}{3} \ast) \circ (\frac{1}{2} \ast), \quad
(\frac{1}{2} \ast) \circ (\frac{1}{3} \ast) = (\frac{2}{3} \ast) \circ (\frac{0}{2} \ast),
(\frac{1}{2} \ast) \circ (\frac{2}{3} \ast) = (\frac{2}{3} \ast) \circ (\frac{1}{2} \ast) \]

let’s spend 3K on (math)books

Santa gave me 3000 Euros to spend on books. One downside: I have to give him my wish-list before monday. So, I’d better get started. Clearly, any further suggestions you might have will be much appreciated, either in the comments below or more directly via email.

Today I’ll focus on my own interests: algebraic geometry, non-commutative geometry and representation theory. I do own a fair amount of books already which accounts for the obvious omissions in the lists below (such as Hartshorne, Mumford or Eisenbud-Harris in AG, Fulton-Harris in RT or the ‘bibles’ in NCG).

[section_title text=”Algebraic geometry”]

Here, I base myself on (and use quotes from) the excellent answer by Javier Alvarez to the MathOverflow post Best Algebraic Geometry text book? (other than Hartshorne).

In no particular order:

Lectures on Curves, Surfaces and Projective Varieties by Ettore Carletti, Dionisio Gallarati, and Giacomo Monti Bragadin and Mauro C. Beltrametti.
“which starts from the very beginning with a classical geometric style. Very complete (proves Riemann-Roch for curves in an easy language) and concrete in classic constructions needed to understand the reasons about why things are done the way they are in advanced purely algebraic books. There are very few books like this and they should be a must to start learning the subject. (Check out Dolgachev’s review.)”

A Royal Road to Algebraic Geometry by Audun Holme. “This new title is wonderful: it starts by introducing algebraic affine and projective curves and varieties and builds the theory up in the first half of the book as the perfect introduction to Hartshorne’s chapter I. The second half then jumps into a categorical introduction to schemes, bits of cohomology and even glimpses of intersection theory.”

Liu Qing – “Algebraic Geometry and Arithmetic Curves”. “It is a very complete book even introducing some needed commutative algebra and preparing the reader to learn arithmetic geometry like Mordell’s conjecture, Faltings’ or even Fermat-Wiles Theorem.”

Görtz; Wedhorn – Algebraic Geometry I, Schemes with Examples and Exercises. labeled ‘the best on schemes’ by Alvarez. “Tons of stuff on schemes; more complete than Mumford’s Red Book. It does a great job complementing Hartshorne’s treatment of schemes, above all because of the more solvable exercises.”

Kollár – Lectures on Resolution of Singularities. “Great exposition, useful contents and examples on topics one has to deal with sooner or later.”

Kollár; Mori – Birational Geometry of Algebraic Varieties. “Considered as harder to learn from by some students, it has become the standard reference on birational geometry.”

And further, as a follow-up on their previous book on the computational side of AG:

Using Algebraic Geometry by Cox, Little and O’Shea.

[section_title text=”Non-commutative geometry”]


Noncommutative Geometry and Particle Physics by Walter van Suijlekom. Blurb: “This book provides an introduction to noncommutative geometry and presents a number of its recent applications to particle physics. It is intended for graduate students in mathematics/theoretical physics who are new to the field of noncommutative geometry, as well as for researchers in mathematics/theoretical physics with an interest in the physical applications of noncommutative geometry. In the first part, we introduce the main concepts and techniques by studying finite noncommutative spaces, providing a “light” approach to noncommutative geometry. We then proceed with the general framework by defining and analyzing noncommutative spin manifolds and deriving some main results on them, such as the local index formula. In the second part, we show how noncommutative spin manifolds naturally give rise to gauge theories, applying this principle to specific examples. We subsequently geometrically derive abelian and non-abelian Yang-Mills gauge theories, and eventually the full Standard Model of particle physics, and conclude by explaining how noncommutative geometry might indicate how to proceed beyond the Standard Model.”

An Invitation To Noncommutative Geometry by Matilde Marcolli. Blurb: “This is the first existing volume that collects lectures on this important and fast developing subject in mathematics. The lectures are given by leading experts in the field and the range of topics is kept as broad as possible by including both the algebraic and the differential aspects of noncommutative geometry as well as recent applications to theoretical physics and number theory.”

Noncommutative Geometry and Physics: Renormalisation, Motives, Index Theory. Blurb: “This collection of expository articles grew out of the workshop “Number Theory and Physics” held in March 2009 at The Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics, Vienna. The common theme of the articles is the influence of ideas from noncommutative geometry (NCG) on subjects ranging from number theory to Lie algebras, index theory, and mathematical physics. Matilde Marcolli’s article gives a survey of relevant aspects of NCG in number theory, building on an introduction to motives for beginners by Jorge Plazas and Sujatha Ramdorai.”

Feynman Motives by Matilde Marcolli. Blurb: “This book presents recent and ongoing research work aimed at understanding the mysterious relation between the computations of Feynman integrals in perturbative quantum field theory and the theory of motives of algebraic varieties and their periods. One of the main questions in the field is understanding when the residues of Feynman integrals in perturbative quantum field theory evaluate to periods of mixed Tate motives.” But then, check out Matilde’s recent FaceBook status-update.

[section_title text=”Representation theory”]


An Introduction to the Langlands Program by J. Bernstein (editor). Blurb: “This book presents a broad, user-friendly introduction to the Langlands program, that is, the theory of automorphic forms and its connection with the theory of L-functions and other fields of mathematics. Each of the twelve chapters focuses on a particular topic devoted to special cases of the program. The book is suitable for graduate students and researchers.”

Representation Theory of Finite Groups: An Introductory Approach by Benjamin Steinberg.

Representation Theory of Finite Monoids by Benjamin Steinberg. Blurb: “This first text on the subject provides a comprehensive introduction to the representation theory of finite monoids. Carefully worked examples and exercises provide the bells and whistles for graduate accessibility, bringing a broad range of advanced readers to the forefront of research in the area. Highlights of the text include applications to probability theory, symbolic dynamics, and automata theory. Comfort with module theory, a familiarity with ordinary group representation theory, and the basics of Wedderburn theory, are prerequisites for advanced graduate level study.”

How am I doing? 914 dollars…

Way to go, same exercise tomorrow. Again, suggestions/warnings welcome!

A noncommutative moduli space

Supernatural numbers also appear in noncommutative geometry via James Glimm’s characterisation of a class of simple $C^*$-algebras, the UHF-algebras.

A uniformly hyperfine (or, UHF) algebra $A$ is a $C^*$-algebra that can be written as the closure, in the norm topology, of an increasing union of finite-dimensional full matrix algebras

$M_{c_1}(\mathbb{C}) \subset M_{c_2}(\mathbb{C}) \subset … \quad \subset A$

Such embedding are only possible if the matrix-sizes divide each other, that is $c_1 | c_2 | c_3 | … $, and we can assign to $A$ the supernatural number $s=\prod_i c_i$ and denote $A=A(s)$.

In his paper On a certain class of operator algebras, Glimm proved that two UHF-algebras $A(s)$ and $B(t)$ are isomorphic as $C^*$-algebras if and only if $s=t$. That is, the supernatural numbers $\mathbb{S}$ are precisely the isomorphism classes of UHF-algebras.

An important invariant, the Grothendieck group $K_0$ of $A(s)$, can be described as the additive subgroup $\mathbb{Q}(s)$ of $\mathbb{Q}$ generated by all fractions of the form $\frac{1}{n}$ where $n$ is a positive integer dividing $s$.

A “noncommutative space” is a Morita class of $C^*$-algebras, so we want to know when two $UHF$-algebras $A(s)$ and $B(t)$ are Morita-equivalent. This turns out to be the case when there are positive integers $n$ and $m$ such that $n.s = m.t$, or equivalently when the $K_0$’s $\mathbb{Q}(s)$ and $\mathbb{Q}(t)$ are isomorphic as additive subgroups of $\mathbb{Q}$.

Thus Morita-equivalence defines an equivalence relation on $\mathbb{S}$ as follows: if $s=\prod p^{s_p}$ and $t= \prod p^{t_p}$ then $s \sim t$ if and only if the following two properties are satisfied:

(1): $s_p = \infty$ iff $t_p= \infty$, and

(2): $s_p=t_p$ for all but finitely many primes $p$.

That is, we can view the equivalence classes $\mathbb{S}/\sim$ as the moduli space of noncommutative spaces associated to UHF-algebras!

Now, the equivalence relation is described in terms of isomorphism classes of additive subgroups of the rationals, which was precisely the characterisation of isomorphism classes of points in the arithmetic site, that is, the finite adèle classes

$\mathbb{S}/\sim~\simeq~\mathbb{Q}^* \backslash \mathbb{A}^f_{\mathbb{Q}} / \widehat{\mathbb{Z}}^*$

and as the induced topology of $\mathbb{A}^f_{\mathbb{Q}}$ on it is trivial, this “space” is usually thought of as a noncommutative space.

That is, $\mathbb{S}/\sim$ is a noncommutative moduli space of noncommutative spaces defined by UHF-algebras.

The finite integers form one equivalence class, corresponding to the fact that the finite dimensional UHF-algebras $M_n(\mathbb{C})$ are all Morita-equivalent to $\mathbb{C}$, or a bit more pompous, that the Brauer group $Br(\mathbb{C})$ is trivial.

Multiplication of supernaturals induces a well defined multiplication on equivalence classes, and, with that multiplication we can view $\mathbb{S}/\sim$ as the ‘Brauer-monoid’ $Br_{\infty}(\mathbb{C})$ of simple UHF-algebras…

(Btw. the photo of James Glimm above was taken by George Bergman in 1972)

Quiver Grassmannians can be anything

A standard Grassmannian $Gr(m,V)$ is the manifold having as its points all possible $m$-dimensional subspaces of a given vectorspace $V$. As an example, $Gr(1,V)$ is the set of lines through the origin in $V$ and therefore is the projective space $\mathbb{P}(V)$. Grassmannians are among the nicest projective varieties, they are smooth and allow a cell decomposition.

A quiver $Q$ is just an oriented graph. Here’s an example

A representation $V$ of a quiver assigns a vector-space to each vertex and a linear map between these vertex-spaces to every arrow. As an example, a representation $V$ of the quiver $Q$ consists of a triple of vector-spaces $(V_1,V_2,V_3)$ together with linear maps $f_a~:~V_2 \rightarrow V_1$ and $f_b,f_c~:~V_2 \rightarrow V_3$.

A sub-representation $W \subset V$ consists of subspaces of the vertex-spaces of $V$ and linear maps between them compatible with the maps of $V$. The dimension-vector of $W$ is the vector with components the dimensions of the vertex-spaces of $W$.

This means in the example that we require $f_a(W_2) \subset W_1$ and $f_b(W_2)$ and $f_c(W_2)$ to be subspaces of $W_3$. If the dimension of $W_i$ is $m_i$ then $m=(m_1,m_2,m_3)$ is the dimension vector of $W$.

The quiver-analogon of the Grassmannian $Gr(m,V)$ is the Quiver Grassmannian $QGr(m,V)$ where $V$ is a quiver-representation and $QGr(m,V)$ is the collection of all possible sub-representations $W \subset V$ with fixed dimension-vector $m$. One might expect these quiver Grassmannians to be rather nice projective varieties.

However, last week Markus Reineke posted a 2-page note on the arXiv proving that every projective variety is a quiver Grassmannian.

Let’s illustrate the argument by finding a quiver Grassmannian $QGr(m,V)$ isomorphic to the elliptic curve in $\mathbb{P}^2$ with homogeneous equation $Y^2Z=X^3+Z^3$.

Consider the Veronese embedding $\mathbb{P}^2 \rightarrow \mathbb{P}^9$ obtained by sending a point $(x:y:z)$ to the point

\[ (x^3:x^2y:x^2z:xy^2:xyz:xz^2:y^3:y^2z:yz^2:z^3) \]

The upshot being that the elliptic curve is now realized as the intersection of the image of $\mathbb{P}^2$ with the hyper-plane $\mathbb{V}(X_0-X_7+X_9)$ in the standard projective coordinates $(x_0:x_1:\cdots:x_9)$ for $\mathbb{P}^9$.

To describe the equations of the image of $\mathbb{P}^2$ in $\mathbb{P}^9$ consider the $6 \times 3$ matrix with the rows corresponding to $(x^2,xy,xz,y^2,yz,z^2)$ and the columns to $(x,y,z)$ and the entries being the multiplications, that is

$$\begin{bmatrix} x^3 & x^2y & x^2z \\ x^2y & xy^2 & xyz \\ x^2z & xyz & xz^2 \\ xy^2 & y^3 & y^2z \\ xyz & y^2z & yz^2 \\ xz^2 & yz^2 & z^3 \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} x_0 & x_1 & x_2 \\ x_1 & x_3 & x_4 \\ x_2 & x_4 & x_5 \\ x_3 & x_6 & x_7 \\ x_4 & x_7 & x_8 \\ x_5 & x_8 & x_9 \end{bmatrix}$$

But then, a point $(x_0:x_1: \cdots : x_9)$ belongs to the image of $\mathbb{P}^2$ if (and only if) the matrix on the right-hand side has rank $1$ (that is, all its $2 \times 2$ minors vanish). Next, consider the quiver

and consider the representation $V=(V_1,V_2,V_3)$ with vertex-spaces $V_1=\mathbb{C}$, $V_2 = \mathbb{C}^{10}$ and $V_2 = \mathbb{C}^6$. The linear maps $x,y$ and $z$ correspond to the columns of the matrix above, that is

$$(x_0,x_1,x_2,x_3,x_4,x_5,x_6,x_7,x_8,x_9) \begin{cases} \rightarrow^x~(x_0,x_1,x_2,x_3,x_4,x_5) \\ \rightarrow^y~(x_1,x_3,x_4,x_6,x_7,x_8) \\ \rightarrow^z~(x_2,x_4,x_5,x_7,x_8,x_9) \end{cases}$$

The linear map $h~:~\mathbb{C}^{10} \rightarrow \mathbb{C}$ encodes the equation of the hyper-plane, that is $h=x_0-x_7+x_9$.

Now consider the quiver Grassmannian $QGr(m,V)$ for the dimension vector $m=(0,1,1)$. A base-vector $p=(x_0,\cdots,x_9)$ of $W_2 = \mathbb{C}p$ of a subrepresentation $W=(0,W_2,W_3) \subset V$ must be such that $h(x)=0$, that is, $p$ determines a point of the hyper-plane.

Likewise the vectors $x(p),y(p)$ and $z(p)$ must all lie in the one-dimensional space $W_3 = \mathbb{C}$, that is, the right-hand side matrix above must have rank one and hence $p$ is a point in the image of $\mathbb{P}^2$ under the Veronese.

That is, $Gr(m,V)$ is isomorphic to the intersection of this image with the hyper-plane and hence is isomorphic to the elliptic curve.

The general case is similar as one can view any projective subvariety $X \rightarrow \mathbb{P}^n$ as isomorphic to the intersection of the image of a specific $d$-uple Veronese embedding $\mathbb{P}^n \rightarrow \mathbb{P}^N$ with a number of hyper-planes in $\mathbb{P}^N$.

ADDED For those desperate to read the original comments-section, here’s the link.