It is an attempt to algebraicize combinatorics. First we look at an example from Rota. Given a field with char . Let be the vector space over with a basis indexed by the set of all ranked posets.

Definition 2A ranked poset is a finite poset with a unique smallest and largest element such that all maximal chains have the same length.

Examples are chains, hypercubes under the Hamming rank. I also thought of partitions with rank given by Cayley distance from the identity partition .

has a natural grading given by the rank of the ranked posets. One can take product of two ranked posets, with lexicographical grading presumably, which is an associative operation. under this product is a graded algebra. Next we need a coproduct : the relation with categorical coproduct in terms of commutative diagram is yet unclear to me. Essentially maps , whereas a product would reverse the arrow above. It needs to satisfy (coassociativity), which is similar to the associativity axiom for product in a commutative algebra. That’s why Hopf algebra is a coalgebra (or cogebra).

On , we define on basis element a ranked poset:

where is the subranked poset consisting of all elements between the smallest and in . Note that is not the same as the product of two ranked poset defined above. One can check that .

Also one defines a counit , which for the Rota example is given by

and zero otherwise.

Combinatorial Hopf algebras (CHA) have a character in addition. In the ranked poset example, we take

for all . Then trivially . Honestly I haven’t seen any motivation for this.

Other examples of CHA:

a vector space with basis indexed by all finite posets, graded by . gives a graded algebra structure. Similar to the previous example,

where the sum is over all order ideals in P( definition: implies . ), with again trivially.

We have a morphism of Hopf algebra given on basis elements by the set of order ideals in P. The latter set has an obvious ranked poset structure. For more on Hopf algebra, S. Montgomery’s reference ‘Hopf algebra and their actions on rings’ is recommended (evil smile:). So now more formally,

Definition 3A graded conected Hopf algebra over is a graded vector space with an associative product operation that preserves grading, and also equipped with the following data

- a coassociative(explained above) coproduct .
- a counit , such that . With these two data we have a coalgebra.
- Also need , where induced product on tensor space is understood.

One nice thing about Hopf algebra is that if A is Hopf, and B any algebra, then has a product given by

where is the obvious tensor contraction product.

A character of Hopf algebra is an algebra map, , with , . Having it gives a combinatorial Hopf algebra as mentioned earlier.