Sheaves on Graphs and Their Homological Invariants
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  • Abstract:

    We introduce a notion of a sheaf of vector spaces on a graph, and develop the foundations of homology theories for such sheaves. One sheaf invariant, its ``maximum excess,'' has a number of remarkable properties. It has a simple definition, with no reference to homology theory, that resembles graph expansion. Yet it is a ``limit'' of Betti numbers, and hence has a short/long exact sequence theory and resembles the $L^2$ Betti numbers of Atiyah. Also, the maximum excess is defined via a supermodular function, which gives the maximum excess much stronger properties than one has of a typical Betti number. The maximum excess gives a simple interpretation of an important graph invariant, which will be used to study the Hanna Neumann Conjecture in a future paper. Our sheaf theory can be viewed as a vast generalization of algebraic graph theory: each sheaf has invariants associated to it---such as Betti numbers and Laplacian matrices---that generalize those in classical graph theory.