Weighted Hurwitz numbers and hypergeometric $\tau$-functions: an overview

Research paper by J. Harnad

Indexed on: 21 Sep '15Published on: 21 Sep '15Published in: Mathematical Physics


This is an overview of recent results on the use of 2D Toda $\tau$-functions as generating functions for multiparametric families of weighted Hurwitz numbers. The Bose-Fermi equivalence composed with the characteristic map provides an isomorphism between the zero charge sector of the Fermionic Fock space and the direct sum of the centers of the group algebra of the symmetric groups $S_n$. Specializing the fermionic formula to the case of diagonal group elements gives $\tau$-functions of hypergeometric type, for which the expansion over products of Schur functions is diagonal, with coefficients of {\em content product} type. The corresponding abelian group action on the centre of the $S_n$ group algebra is determined by forming symmetric functions multiplicatively from a weight generating function $G(z)$ and evaluating on the Jucys-Murphy elements of the group algebra. The resulting central elements act diagonally on the basis of orthogonal idempotents and the eigenvalues $r^{G(z)}_\lambda$ are the {\em content product} coefficients appearing in the double Schur function expansion. Both the geometrical meaning of weighted Hurwitz numbers, as weighted sums over $n$-sheeted branched coverings, and the combinatorial one, as weighted enumeration of paths in the Cayley graph of $S_n$ generated by transpositions follow from expansion of the Cauchy-Littlewood generating functions over dual pairs of bases of the algebra of symmetric functions. The coefficients in the resulting $\tau$-function expansion over products of power sum symmetric functions are the weighted Hurwitz numbers. Replacement of the Cauchy-Littlewood generating function by that for Macdonald polynomials provides $(q,t)$-deformations that yield generating functions for quantum weighted Hurwitz numbers.