Extremal Examples of Collapsible Complexes and Random Discrete Morse Theory

Karim A. Adiprasito, Bruno Benedetti, Frank H. Lutz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We present extremal constructions connected with the property of simplicial collapsibility. (1) For each d≥ 2 , there are collapsible (and shellable) simplicial d-complexes with only one free face. Also., there are non-evasive d-complexes with only two free faces (both results are optimal in all dimensions). (2) Optimal discrete Morse vectors need not be unique. We explicitly construct a contractible, but non-collapsible 3-dimensional simplicial complex with face vector f= (106 , 596 , 1064 , 573) that admits two distinct optimal discrete Morse vectors, (1, 1, 1, 0) and (1, 0, 1, 1). Indeed, we show that in every dimension d≥ 3 there are contractible, non-collapsible simplicial d-complexes that have (1 , 0 , ⋯ , 0 , 1 , 1 , 0) and (1 , 0 , ⋯ , 0 , 0 , 1 , 1) as distinct optimal discrete Morse vectors. (3) We give a first explicit example of a (non-PL) 5-manifold, with face vector f= (5013 , 72300 , 290944 , 495912, 383136, 110880), that is collapsible but not homeomorphic to a ball. Furthermore., we discuss possible improvements and drawbacks of random approaches to collapsibility and discrete Morse theory. We will introduce randomized versions random-lex-first and random-lex-last of the lex-first and lex-last discrete Morse strategies of Benedetti and Lutz (Exp Math 23(1):66–94, 2014), respectively—and we will see that in many instances the random-lex-last strategy works significantly better than Benedetti–Lutz’s (uniform) random strategy. On the theoretical side, we prove that after repeated barycentric subdivisions, the discrete Morse vectors found by randomized algorithms have, on average, an exponential (in the number of barycentric subdivisions) number of critical cells asymptotically almost surely.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)824-853
Number of pages30
JournalDiscrete and Computational Geometry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the anonymous referees for valuable comments that greatly helped to improve the presentation of the paper. Karim Adiprasito acknowledges support by a Minerva fellowship of the Max Planck Society, NSF Grant DMS 1128155, ISF Grant 1050/16 and ERC StG 716424 - CASe. Bruno Benedetti was supported by the DFG Coll. Research Center TRR 109, “Discretization in Geometry and Dynamics” and NSF Grant 1600741, “Geometric Combinatorics and Discrete Morse Theory”. Frank H. Lutz was supported by the DFG Research Group “Polyhedral Surfaces”, by the DFG Coll. Research Center TRR 109, “Discretization in Geometry and Dynamics”, by VILLUM FONDEN through the Experimental Mathematics Network and by the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF) through the Centre for Symmetry and Deformation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Collapsibility
  • Library of triangulations
  • Random discrete Morse theory
  • Shellability


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