The General Theory of Linear Difference Equations over the Max-Plus Semi-Ring


Address for correspondence: Nalini Joshi, School of Mathematics and Statistics F07, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia; e-mail:


We present the mathematical theory underlying systems of linear difference equations over the max-plus semi-ring. The result provides an analog of isomonodromy theory for ultradiscrete Painlevé equations, which are extended cellular automata, and provide evidence for their integrability. Our theory is analogous to that developed by Birkhoff and his school for linear q-difference equations, but stands independently of the latter. As an example, we derive linear problems in this algebra for ultradiscrete versions of the symmetric PIV equation and show how it is a necessary condition for isomonodromic deformation of a linear system.