Helmut Hofer asked me how the symplectic embedding obstructions in “Beyond ECH capacities” compare to the obstructions given by Ekeland-Hofer capacities, for symplectic embeddings between ellipsoids and polydisks. I happened to know the answer to this, using something which I chose to leave out of the paper (too many things going on, needed to try to stay focused!), so I would like to explain it here. First, the answer is the following:
- For symplectic embeddings of (four-dimensional) ellipsoids into ellipsoids or polydisks, ECH capacities give sharp obstructions (shown by McDuff), while Ekeland-Hofer capacities are often weaker.
- For a polydisk into another polydisk where and , Ekeland-Hofer only tells us that . ECH capacities say a bit more but are not very good. “Beyond ECH capacities” gives sharp obstructions in some cases.
- For a polydisk into an ellipsoid , ECH capacities are not very good, and sometimes weaker than Ekeland-Hofer capacities. Ekeland-Hofer gives a sharp obstruction when (and a less good obstruction when ). “Beyond ECH capacities” can recover this (the sharp obstruction when ; I haven’t checked that I can recover all information given by all Ekeland-Hofer capacities when ).
I would now like to explain this last point. First let’s change the notation: given , we would like to find the infimum of such that the polydisk symplectically embeds into the ellipsoid . Observe that trivially embeds into by inclusion if . When , the converse is true:
Theorem 1. If and symplectically embeds into , then .
Here’s how to prove this using Ekeland-Hofer capacities. Let’s denote the Ekeland-Hofer capacity by . (Usually I use this symbol to denote ECH capacities, but we won’t be talking about ECH capacities in this post.) The Ekeland-Hofer capacities of for are given by
On the other hand, is the entry in the list of all positive integer multiples of or , written in increasing order with repetitions. It follows that
So if symplectically embeds into , then by the monotonicity property of Ekeland-Hofer capacities, for every positive integer we have
Taking large gives as desired. Now how do we recover this from “Beyond ECH capacities”? Doing something rather crude with the methods in that paper, which I will explain below, one obtains the following:
Theorem 2. Suppose symplectically embeds into where . Suppose also that
For example, if , then we obtain , recovering Theorem 1. Another example is that if , then we obtain
for . This is nontrivial, but weaker than Theorem 1.2 in “Beyond ECH capacities” when .
Now I will explain the proof of Theorem 2, assuming as a prerequisite the statement of Theorem 1.18 in “Beyond ECH capacities”. We will need the following immediate corollary of the latter theorem:
Theorem 3. Let and be convex toric tomains, and suppose that symplectically embeds into . Let be a convex generator which is minimal for . Then there exists a convex generator such that
(To address a question of Dan C-G: You can also say that defines a filtration on the ECH chain complex which is preserved by the cobordism map. However I’m not sure if the cobordism map necessarily induces an isomorphism on the homology of the associated graded, because I don’t know if this filtration will be preserved by the relevant chain homotopies. There are also variants of this filtration to play with coming from and . An interesting topic to think about later.)
Here is how to deduce Theorem 2 from Theorem 3. Let be a convex generator which is minimal for and has very large ECH index. Let us rescale this so that the area under the curve is . Then the rescaled is approximately a straight line from to . Now the convex generator provided by Theorem 2, after rescaling by the same factor, is a curve from to , for some positive real numbers and , which is the graph of a nonincreasing concave function, and the area under this curve is approximately . It follows that
up to some error which can be made arbitrarily small by taking the ECH index of to be sufficiently large. The other two inequalities in Theorem 2 then tell us that, also up to a small error, we have
It follows that
It is now an exercise in undergraduate multivariable calculus to compute the minimum on the right hand side. If
then the minimum is . Thus we conclude that . This is just the volume constraint . On the other hand, if
then the minimum is , which proves Theorem 3.
One last remark: the asymptotics of the symplectic embedding obstructions coming from ECH capacities for large ECH index just recover the volume constraint. The example above shows that the asymptotics of the obstruction in Theorem 2 for large ECH index (and also the Ekeland-Hofer capacities for large ) sometimes say more.