Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Ehrenborg


In this dissertation we first study partition posets and their topology. For each composition c we show that the order complex of the poset of pointed set partitions is a wedge of spheres of the same dimension with the multiplicity given by the number of permutations with descent composition c. Furthermore, the action of the symmetric group on the top homology is isomorphic to the Specht module of a border strip associated to the composition. We also study the filter of pointed set partitions generated by knapsack integer partitions. In the second half of this dissertation we study descent avoidance in permutations. We extend the notion of consecutive pattern avoidance to considering sums over all permutations where each term is a product of weights depending on each consecutive pattern of a fixed length. We study the problem of finding the asymptotics of these sums. Our technique is to extend the spectral method of Ehrenborg, Kitaev and Perry. When the weight depends on the descent pattern, we show how to find the equation determining the spectrum. We give two length 4 applications, and a weighted pattern of length 3 where the associated operator only has one non-zero eigenvalue. Using generating functions we show that the error term in the asymptotic expression is the smallest possible.