Dual singularities in exceptional type nilpotent cones

6 February 2018

It is well-known that nilpotent orbits in $\mathfrak{sl}_n(\mathbb C)$ correspond bijectively with the set of partitions of $n$, such that the closure (partial) ordering on orbits is sent to the dominance order on partitions. Taking dual partitions simply turns this poset upside down, so in type $A$ there is an order-reversing involution on the poset of nilpotent orbits. More generally, if $\mathfrak g$ is any simple Lie algebra over $\mathbb C$ then Lusztig-Spaltenstein duality is an order-reversing bijection from the set of special nilpotent orbits in $\mathfrak g$ to the set of special nilpotent orbits in the Langlands dual Lie algebra $\mathfrak g^L$.
It was observed by Kraft and Procesi that the duality in type $A$ is manifested in the geometry of the nullcone. In particular, if two orbits $\mathcal O_1<\mathcal O_2$ are adjacent in the partial order then so are their duals $\mathcal O_1^t>\mathcal O_2^t$, and the isolated singularity attached to the pair $(\mathcal O_1,\mathcal O_2)$ is dual to the singularity attached to $(\mathcal O_2^t,\mathcal O_1^t)$: a Kleinian singularity of type $A_k$ is swapped with the minimal nilpotent orbit closure in $\mathfrak{sl}_{k+1}$ (and vice-versa). Subsequent work of Kraft-Procesi determined singularities associated to such pairs in the remaining classical Lie algebras, but did not specifically touch on duality for pairs of special orbits.
In this talk, I will explain some recent joint research with Fu, Juteau and Sommers on singularities associated to pairs $\mathcal O_1<\mathcal O_2$ of (special) orbits in exceptional Lie algebras. In particular, we (almost always) observe a generalized form of duality for such singularities in any simple Lie algebra.