Cumulants, free cumulants and half-shuffles
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionProceedings of the Royal Society. Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 2015, 471 (2176), . 10.1098/rspa.2014.0843
Free cumulants were introduced as the proper analogue of classical cumulants in the theory of free probability. There is a mix of similarities and differences, when one considers the two families of cumulants. Whereas the combinatorics of classical cumulants is well expressed in terms of set partitions, that of free cumulants is described and often introduced in terms of non-crossing set partitions. The formal series approach to classical and free cumulants also largely differs. The purpose of this study is to put forward a different approach to these phenomena. Namely, we show that cumulants, whether classical or free, can be understood in terms of the algebra and combinatorics underlying commutative as well as non-commutative (half-)shuffles and (half-) unshuffles. As a corollary, cumulants and free cumulants can be characterized through linear fixed point equations. We study the exponential solutions of these linear fixed point equations, which display well the commutative, respectively non-commutative, character of classical and free cumulants.