Non-realizability of polytopes via linear programming

Speaker: Amy Wiebe

Date: Wed, Apr 20, 2022

Location: Online

Conference: Emergent Research: The PIMS Postdoctoral Fellow Seminar

Subject: Mathematics, Algebraic Geometry, Combinatorics

Class: Scientific


A classical question in polytope theory is whether an abstract polytope can be realized as a concrete convex object. Beyond dimension 3, there seems to be no concise answer to this question in general. In specific instances, answering the question in the negative is often done via “final polynomials” introduced by Bokowski and Sturmfels. This method involves finding a polynomial which, based on the structure of a polytope if realizable, must be simultaneously zero and positive, a clear contradiction. The search space for these polynomials is ideal of Grassmann-Plücker relations, which quickly becomes too large to efficiently search, and in most instances where this technique is used, additional assumptions on the structure of the desired polynomial are necessary.

In this talk, I will describe how by changing the search space, we are able to use linear programming to exhaustively search for similar polynomial certificates of non-realizability without any assumed structure. We will see that, perhaps surprisingly, this elementary strategy yields results that are competitive with more elaborate alternatives and allows us to prove non-realizability of several interesting polytopes.