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Stephanie Vance

University of Washington

April 9, 2009

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 1 / 23

Outline

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 2 / 23

What is a ball in Rn ?

x = (x1 , . . . , xn ) is given by the set {y Rn : ||x y || r }

p

where ||x y || = (x1 y1 )2 + + (xn yn )2 .

and consists of the points whose distance from the center is exactly r .

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 3 / 23

A natural geometric question. . .

How densely can identical balls be packed into Rn so that their interiors

dont overlap? (Such a configuration of balls is called a sphere packing.)

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 4 / 23

A few reasons to care about Sphere Packings

maximize the amount of product available to customers choose to

stack its oranges in the produce section?

codes of length n

number theory and algebra

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 5 / 23

Example: communication over a noisy channel

satisfying |x| r .

consists of a stream of signals.

that y 6= x is received at the other end.

noise level of the channel.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 6 / 23

Communication over a noisy channel (continued)

We can build our signal set S (i.e., our vocabulary) so that the

distance between any two signals is at least 2.

This will allow us to correct any errors introduced during

transmission.

Figure: Good Signal Set

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 7 / 23

Communication over a noisy channel (continued)

signals is separated by distance of at least 2.

vocabulary S.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 8 / 23

Connections to number theory

questions involving lattices in Rn (see below) and real

positive-definite quadratic forms in n variables.

some vector space basis v1 , . . . , vn for Rn

= {k1 v1 + + kn vn : k1 , . . . , kn Z}.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 9 / 23

Using lattices to pack spheres in Rn

From a lattice

to a sphere packing

radius of the balls that can be centered onto each lattice point.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 10 / 23

Using lattices to pack spheres in Rn (continued)

generated by {(1, 0), ( 12 , 23 )} Figure: Hexagonal Lattice Sphere

Packing and fundamental region

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 11 / 23

Using lattices to pack spheres in Rn (continued)

disc() = volume of a lattice fundamental region

formula

1

Volume of a ball with radius 2 ||||

Density =

disc()

matrix M for (i.e, a matrix whose rows consist of the coordinates of

a lattice basis for ). More specifically, disc() = | det(M)|.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 12 / 23

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 13 / 23

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

n=2

Optimal density =

2 3

.91

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 13 / 23

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

n=2

Optimal density =

2 3

.91

n=3

I Keplers Conjecture (1611)

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 13 / 23

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

n=2

Optimal density =

2 3

.91

n=3

I Keplers Conjecture (1611)

I A book review by Gauss (1831)

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

n=2

Optimal density =

2 3

.91

n=3

I Keplers Conjecture (1611)

I A book review by Gauss (1831)

I Solved by Thomas Hales (1998)

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

n=2

Optimal density =

2 3

.91

n=3

I Keplers Conjecture (1611)

I A book review by Gauss (1831)

I Solved by Thomas Hales (1998)

Optimal density =

3 2

.74

Known results for the Sphere Packing problem

Optimal density = 1

n=2

Optimal density =

2 3

.91

n=3

I Keplers Conjecture (1611)

I A book review by Gauss (1831)

I Solved by Thomas Hales (1998)

Optimal density =

3 2

.74

???

n4

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 13 / 23

The Lattice Sphere Packing Problem

While not all sphere packings are lattice packings, many of the

densest sphere packings are.

The lattice sphere packing problem is still very hard and the densest

lattice sphere packings known only for dimensions n 8 and n = 24.

other words, the automorphism groups of the lattices are very large.

This is especially true in dimensions 8 and 24 for the root lattice E8

and the Leech lattice 24 .

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 14 / 23

Question: Given that not general solution is likely to exist for the Sphere

Packing problem or even the Lattice Sphere Packing problem, how can we

attempt to solve these problems in high dimensions?

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 15 / 23

A simple lower bound for the optimal density in Rn

Start with a sphere packing of unit balls.

Add more unit balls into the packing until you run out of room.

The resulting packing P has the property that if the sphere radii are

doubled (while the sphere centers remain fixed) then one obtains a

cover P 0 of Rn . WHY? Thus the density of P is at least 21n

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 16 / 23

More lower bounds for the optimal sphere packing density

in Rn

(n) P 1

Minkowski (1905) 2n1

, where (n) = k=1 k n .

n(n)

Rogers (1947) 2n1 e(1e n )

(n1)(n)

Ball (1992) 2n1

3n

Vance (2008) 2n1 e(1e n )

, for dimensions n = 4m

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 17 / 23

Why is the Sphere Packing Problem so difficult?

For the lattice version, while on can easily compute the volume of a

fundamental lattice region (i.e., disc()), calculating the length of the

shortest non-zero vectors in a lattice extremely difficult and becomes

incredibly complex as the dimension n increases.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 18 / 23

The Kissing Number Problem:

How many unit balls (i.e., balls with radius 1) can be arranged tangent to

a central unit ball so that their interiors do not overlap? (Note that such a

configuration is called a kissing configuration)

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 19 / 23

Figure: Kissing configuration in R3

be restated as: how many billiard balls can be arranged around a

central billiard ball so that the outer balls kissthe center ball?

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 20 / 23

Figure: Kissing configuration in R3

be restated as: how many billiard balls can be arranged around a

central billiard ball so that the outer balls kissthe center ball?

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 20 / 23

Figure: Kissing configuration in R3

be restated as: how many billiard balls can be arranged around a

central billiard ball so that the outer balls kissthe center ball?

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 20 / 23

The kissing number for dimensions 1 4, 8, and 24

1 2

2 6

3 12 1874

4 24 2003

8 240 1979

24 196560 1979

than say R4 and R5 ?

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 21 / 23

Possible research projects

optimal sphere packing density in high dimensions by looking at

lattice sphere packings with interesting symmetries

lattices, and kissing configurations.

convex bodies)

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 22 / 23

References

third edition, Springer-Verlag, 1999.

Packings to Simple Groups, Math. Assoc. Amer., 1984.

S. Vance, A Mordell inequality for lattices over maximal orders, to

appear in Transactions of the AMS.

S. Vance, New lower bounds for the sphere packing density in high

dimensions, preprint.

Stephanie Vance (University of Washington)Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Kissing Configurations in Rn April 9, 2009 23 / 23

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