Cuts and flows of cell complexes

Document Type



We study the vector spaces and integer lattices of cuts and flows associated with an arbitrary finite CW complex, and their relationships to group invariants including the critical group of a complex. Our results extend to higher dimension the theory of cuts and flows in graphs, most notably the work of Bacher, de la Harpe and Nagnibeda. We construct explicit bases for the cut and flow spaces, interpret their coefficients topologically, and give sufficient conditions for them to be integral bases of the cut and flow lattices. Second, we determine the precise relationships between the discriminant groups of the cut and flow lattices and the higher critical and cocritical groups with error terms corresponding to torsion (co)homology. As an application, we generalize a result of Kotani and Sunada to give bounds for the complexity, girth, and connectivity of a complex in terms of Hermite's constant.