The hard Lefschetz theorem is a fundamental statement about the symmetry of the cohomology of algebraic varieties. In nearly all cases that we systematically understand it, it comes with a geometric meaning, often in form of Hodge structures and signature data for the Hodge-Riemann bilinear form.

Nevertheless, similar to the role the standard conjectures play in number theory, several intriguing combinatorial problems can be reduced to hard Lefschetz properties, though in extreme cases without much geometric meaning, lacking any existence of, for instance, an ample cone to do Hodge theory with.

I will present a way to prove the hard Lefschetz theorem in such a situation, by introducing biased pairing and perturbation theory for intersection rings. The price we pay is that the underlying variety, in a precise sense, has itself to be sufficiently generic. For instance, we shall see that any quasismooth, but perhaps nonprojective toric variety can be "perturbed" to a toric variety with the same equivariant cohomology, and that has the hard Lefschetz property.

Finally, I will discuss how this applies to prove some interesting theorems in geometry, topology and combinatorics. In particular, we shall see a generalization of a classical result due to Descartes and Euler: We prove that if a simplicial complex embeds into euclidean 2d-space, the number of d-simplices in it can exceed the number of (d-1)-simplices by a factor of at most d+2.