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Patricia Hersh : Topology and combinatorics of regular CW complexes

Anders Björner characterized which finite, graded partially ordered sets (posets) are closure posets of finite, regular CW complexes, and he also observed that a finite, regular CW complex is homeomorphic to the order complex of its closure poset. One might therefore hope to use combinatorics to determine topological structure of stratified spaces by studying their closure posets; however, it is possible for two different CW complexes with very different topological structure to have the same closure poset if one of them is not regular. I will talk about a new criterion for determining whether a finite CW complex is regular (with respect to a choice of characteristic functions); this will involve a mixture of combinatorics and topology. Along the way, I will review the notions from topology and combinatorics we will need. Finally I will discuss an application: the proof of a conjecture of Fomin and Shapiro, a special case of which says that the Schubert cell decomposition of the totally nonnegative part of the space of upper triangular matrices with 1's on the diagonal is a regular CW complex homeomorphic to a ball.

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