nLab Atiyah-Sutcliffe conjecture




topology (point-set topology, point-free topology)

see also differential topology, algebraic topology, functional analysis and topological homotopy theory


Basic concepts

Universal constructions

Extra stuff, structure, properties


Basic statements


Analysis Theorems

topological homotopy theory



In the course of providing a geometric proof of the spin-statistics theorem, Berry & Robbins 1997 asked, at each natural number nn \in \mathbb{N}, for a continuous and Sym ( n ) Sym(n) -equivariant function

(1)Conf {1,,n}( 3)AAAU(n)/(U(1)) n \underset{ {}^{\{1,\cdots, n\}} }{Conf}\big(\mathbb{R}^3\big) \xrightarrow{\phantom{AAA}} \mathrm{U}(n)/\big(\mathrm{U}(1)\big)^n

both equipped with the evident group action by the symmetric group Sym(n)Sym(n).

For the first non-empty case n=2n = 2 this readily reduces to asking for a continuous map of the form 3{0}P 1S 2\mathbb{R}^3 \setminus \{0\} \xrightarrow{\;\;} \mathbb{C}P^1 \simeq S^2 which is equivariant with respect to passage to antipodal points. This is immediately seen to be given by the radial projection. But this special case turns out not to be representative of the general case, as this simple construction idea does not generalize to n>2n \gt 2.

That a continuous and Sym(n)Sym(n)-equivariant Berry-Robbins map (1) indeed exists for all nn was proven in Atiyah 2000.

In this article, Atiyah turned attention to the stronger question asking for a function (1) which is smooth and Sym(n)×Sym(n) \times SO ( 3 ) SO(3) -equivariant and provided an elegant proof strategy for this stronger statement, which however hinges on some conjectural positivity properties of a certain determinant (discussed in more detail and with first numerical evidence in Atiyah 2001), interpreted as the electrostatic energy of nn-particles in 3\mathbb{R}^3.

Extensive numerical checks of this stronger but conjectural construction was recorded, up to n<30n \lt 30 , in Atiyah & Sutcliffe 2002, together with a refined formulation of the conjecture, whence it came to be known as the Atiyah-Sutcliffe conjecture.

The Atiyah-Sutcliffe conjecture has been proven for n=3n = 3 in Atiyah 2000/01 and for n=4n = 4 by Eastwood & Norbury 01.


The origin of the question in investigation of the spin-statistics theorem:

First form and first checks of the conjecture:

Generalization of the codomain to flag manifolds of other compact Lie groups:

Full formulation of the Atiyah-Sutcliffe conjecture:

Proof for n=4n = 4:

Further discussion:

  • Dragutin Svrtan, Igor Urbiha, Atiyah-Sutcliffe conjectures for almost collinear configurations and some new conjectures for symmetric functions, (math.AG/0406386)

  • Dragutin Svrtan, Igor Urbiha, Verification and strengthening of the Atiyah–Sutcliffe conjectures for several types of configurations (math.MG/0609174)

  • Marcin Mazur, Bogdan V. Petrenko, On the conjectures of Atiyah and Sutcliffe, Geom Dedicata 158 (2012) 329–342 (doi:10.1007/s10711-011-9636-6, arxiv:1102.4662)

  • Joseph Malkoun, Root Systems and the Atiyah-Sutcliffe Problem, Journal of Mathematical Physics 60, 101702 (2019) (arXiv:1903.00325)

  • Joseph Malkoun, The Atiyah-Sutcliffe determinant (arXiv:1903.05957)

Last revised on September 13, 2021 at 17:58:38. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.