Decomposing an infinite matroid into its 3-connected minors

Combinatorics Seminar
Friday, January 28, 2011 - 3:05pm
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 006
School of Math. Georgia Tech.
We extend the theory of infinite matroids recently developed by Bruhn et al to a well-known classical result in finite matroids while using the theory of connectivity for infinitematroids of Bruhn and Wollan. We prove that every infinite connected matroid M determines a graph-theoretic decomposition tree whose vertices correspond to minors of M that are3-connected, circuits, or cocircuits, and whose edges correspond to 2-separations of M. Tutte and many other authors proved such a decomposition for finite graphs; Cunningham andEdmonds proved this for finite matroids and showed that this decomposition is unique if circuits and cocircuits are also allowed. We do the same for infinite matroids. The knownproofs of these results, which use rank and induction arguments, do not extend to infinite matroids. Our proof avoids such arguments, thus giving a more first principles proof ofthe finite result. Furthermore, we overcome a number of complications arising from the infinite nature of the problem, ranging from the very existence of 2-sums to proving the treeis actually graph-theoretic.