Relating random matrix map enumeration to a universal symbol calculus for recurrence operators in terms of Bessel-Appell polynomials

Nicholas M. Ercolani, Patrick Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Maps are polygonal cellular networks on Riemann surfaces. This paper analyzes the construction of closed form general representations for the enumerative generating functions associated to maps of fixed but arbitrary genus. The method of construction developed here involves a novel asymptotic symbol calculus for difference operators based on the relation between spectral asymptotics for Hermitian random matrices and asymptotics of orthogonal polynomials with exponential weights. These closed form expressions have a universal character in the sense that they are independent of the explicit valence distribution of the cellular networks within a broad class. Nevertheless the valence distributions may be recovered from the closed form generating functions by a remarkable unwinding identity in terms of Appell polynomials generated by Bessel functions. Our treatment reveals the generating functions to be solutions of nonlinear conservation laws and their prolongations. This characterization enables one to gain insights that go beyond more traditional methods that are purely combinatorial. Universality results are connected to stability results for characteristic singularities of conservation laws that were studied by Caflisch, Ercolani, Hou and Landis, Multi-valued solutions and branch point singularities for nonlinear hyperbolic or elliptic systems, Commun. Pure Appl. Math. 46 (1993) 453-499, as well as directly related to universality results for random matrix spectra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2250037
JournalRandom Matrices: Theory and Application
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Appell polynomials
  • Combinatorial generating functions
  • Conservation law hierarchies
  • Hopf algebras
  • Map enumeration
  • Motzkin paths
  • Orthogonal polynomials
  • Random matrices
  • String equations
  • Toda lattices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics

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