The one-sided cycle shuffles in the symmetric group algebra
Algebraic Combinatorics, Volume 7 (2024) no. 2, pp. 275-326.

We study an infinite family of shuffling operators on the symmetric group S n , which includes the well-studied top-to-random shuffle. The general shuffling scheme consists of removing one card at a time from the deck (according to some probability distribution) and re-inserting it at a position chosen uniformly at random among the positions below. Rewritten in terms of the group algebra S n , our shuffle corresponds to right multiplication by a linear combination of the elements

t :=cyc +cyc ,+1 +cyc ,+1,+2 ++cyc ,+1,...,n S n

for all 1,2,...,n (where cyc i 1 ,i 2 ,...,i p denotes the permutation in S n that cycles through i 1 ,i 2 ,...,i p ).

We compute the eigenvalues of these shuffling operators and of all their linear combinations. In particular, we show that the eigenvalues of right multiplication by a linear combination λ 1 t 1 +λ 2 t 2 ++λ n t n (with λ 1 ,λ 2 ,...,λ n ) are the numbers λ 1 m I,1 +λ 2 m I,2 ++λ n m I,n , where I ranges over the lacunar subsets of 1,2,...,n-1 (i.e., over the subsets that contain no two consecutive integers), and where m I, denotes the distance from to the next-higher element of I (this “next-higher element” is understood to be itself if I, and to be n+1 if >maxI). We compute the multiplicities of these eigenvalues and show that if they are all distinct, the shuffling operator is diagonalizable. To this purpose, we show that the operators of right multiplication by t 1 ,t 2 ,...,t n on S n are simultaneously triangularizable, and in fact there is a combinatorially defined basis (the “descent-destroying basis”, as we call it) of S n in which they are represented by upper-triangular matrices. The results stated here over for convenience are actually stated and proved over an arbitrary commutative ring k.

We finish by describing a strong stationary time for the random-to-below shuffle, which is the shuffle in which the card that moves below is selected uniformly at random, and we give the waiting time for this event to happen.

Published online:
DOI: 10.5802/alco.346
Classification: 05E99, 20C30, 60J10
Keywords: symmetric group, permutations, card shuffling, top-to-random shuffle, group algebra, substitutional analysis, Fibonacci numbers, filtration, representation theory, Markov chain
Grinberg, Darij 1; Lafrenière, Nadia 2

1 Drexel University Korman Center 15 S 33rd Street Office #263 Philadelphia, PA 19104 (USA)
2 Concordia University J.W. McConnell Building (LB) 1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Montreal, QC H3G 1M8 (Canada)
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Grinberg, Darij; Lafrenière, Nadia. The one-sided cycle shuffles in the symmetric group algebra. Algebraic Combinatorics, Volume 7 (2024) no. 2, pp. 275-326. doi : 10.5802/alco.346.

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