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Studying the inertias of LCM matrices and revisiting the Bourque-Ligh conjecture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Article number105161
JournalJournal of Combinatorial Theory. Series A
Early online date14 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Let S={x1,x2,…,xn} be a finite set of distinct positive integers. Throughout this article we assume that the set S is GCD closed. The LCM matrix [S] of the set S is defined to be the n×n matrix with lcm(xi,xj) as its ij element. The famous Bourque-Ligh conjecture used to state that the LCM matrix of a GCD closed set S is always invertible, but currently it is a well-known fact that any nontrivial LCM matrix is indefinite and under the right circumstances it can be even singular (even if the set S is assumed to be GCD closed). However, not much more is known about the inertia of LCM matrices in general. The ultimate goal of this article is to improve this situation. Assuming that S is a meet closed set we define an entirely new lattice-theoretic concept by saying that an element xi∈S generates a double-chain set in S if the set meetcl(CS(xi))∖CS(xi) can be expressed as a union of two disjoint chains (here the set CS(xi) consists of all the elements of the set S that are covered by xi and meetcl(CS(xi)) is the smallest meet closed subset of S that contains the set CS(xi)). We then proceed by studying the values of the Möbius function on sets in which every element generates a double-chain set and use the properties of the Möbius function to explain why the Bourque-Ligh conjecture holds in so many cases and fails in certain very specific instances. After that we turn our attention to the inertia and see that in some cases it is possible to determine the inertia of an LCM matrix simply by looking at the lattice-theoretic structure of (S,|) alone. Finally, we are going to show how to construct LCM matrices in which the majority of the eigenvalues is either negative or positive.


  • Bourque-Ligh conjecture, GCD matrix, LCM matrix, Smith determinant

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland