Tea in POT 745 at 3:14 pm = π time
Speaker: Mihai Ciucu, Indiana University
Title: Cruciform regions and a conjecture of Di Francesco
The problem of finding formulas for the number of tilings of lattice regions goes back to the early 1900's, when MacMahon proved (in an equivalent form) that the number of lozenge tilings of a hexagon is given by an elegant product formula. In 1992, Elkies, Kuperberg, Larsen and Propp proved that the Aztec diamond (a certain natural region on the square lattice) of order n has 2n(n+1)/2 domino tilings. A large related body of work developed motivated by a multitude of factors, including symmetries, refinements and connections with other combinatorial objects and statistical physics. It was a model from statistical physics that motivated the conjecture which inspired the regions we will discuss in this talk.
In recent work on the twenty vertex model, Di Francesco was led to a conjecture which states that the number of domino tilings of a certain family of regions on the square lattice is given by a product formula reminiscent of the one giving the number of alternating sign matrices. These regions, denoted Tn, are obtained by starting with a square of side-length 2n, cutting it in two along a diagonal by a zigzag path with step length two, and gluing to one of the resulting regions half of an Aztec diamond of order n-1. Inspired by the regions Tn, we construct a family of cruciform regions Cm,na,b,c,d generalizing the Aztec diamonds and we prove that their number of domino tilings is given by a simple product formula. Since (as it follows from our results) the number of domino tilings of the region Tn is a divisor of the number of tilings of the cruciform region C2n-1,2n-1n-1,n,n,n-2, the special case of our formula corresponding to the latter can be viewed as partial progress towards proving Di Francesco's conjecture.