Morse inequalities for ordered eigenvalues of generic self-adjoint families Institutional Repository Document uri icon


  • In many applied problems one seeks to identify and count the critical points of a particular eigenvalue of a smooth parametric family of self-adjoint matrices, with the parameter space often being known and simple, such as a torus. Among particular settings where such a question arises are the Floquet--Bloch decomposition of periodic Schroedinger operators, topology of potential energy surfaces in quantum chemistry, spectral optimization problems such as minimal spectral partitions of manifolds, as well as nodal statistics of graph eigenfunctions. In contrast to the classical Morse theory dealing with smooth functions, the eigenvalues of families of self-adjoint matrices are not smooth at the points corresponding to repeated eigenvalues (called, depending on the application and on the dimension of the parameter space, the diabolical/Dirac/Weyl points or the conical intersections). This work develops a procedure for associating a Morse polynomial to a point of eigenvalue multiplicity; it utilizes the assumptions of smoothness and self-adjointness of the family to provide concrete answers. In particular, we define the notions of non-degenerate topologically critical point and generalized Morse family, establish that generalized Morse families are generic in an appropriate sense, establish a differential first-order conditions for criticality, as well as compute the local contribution of a topologically critical point to the Morse polynomial. Remarkably, the non-smooth contribution to the Morse polynomial turns out to be universal: it depends only on the size of the eigenvalue multiplicity and the relative position of the eigenvalue of interest and not on the particulars of the operator family; it is expressed in terms of the homologies of Grassmannians.

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Berkolaiko, G., & Zelenko, I.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Berkolaiko, Gregory||Zelenko, Igor

Book Title

  • arXiv

publication date

  • April 2023