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The Number of Ramified Coverings of the Sphere by the Torus and Surfaces of Higher Genera
I.P. Goulden1,D.M. Jackson1, A. Vainshtein2
1Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
{ipgoulden, dmjackso}@math.uwaterloo.ca
2Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Science, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
Annals of Combinatorics 4 (1) p.27-46 March, 2000
AMS Subject Classification: 58D29, 58C35, 05C30, 05E05
We obtain an explicit expression for the number of ramified coverings of the sphere by the torus with given ramification type for a small number of ramification points, and conjecture this to be true for an arbitrary number of ramification points. In addition, the conjecture is proved for simple coverings of the sphere by the torus. We obtain corresponding expressions for surfaces of higher genera for small number of ramification points, and conjecture the general form for this number in terms of a symmetric polynomial that appears to be new. The approach involves the analysis of the action of a transposition to derive a system of linear partial differential equations that give the generating series for the desired numbers.
Keywords: ramified covering, Riemann surface, Hurwitz Problem, factorization into transpositions, generating series


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