Tropicalization of theta characteristics, double covers, and Prym varieties

David Jensen, Yoav Len

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We study the behavior of theta characteristics on an algebraic curve under the specialization map to a tropical curve. We show that each effective theta characteristic on the tropical curve is the specialization of 2 g-1 even theta characteristics and 2 g-1 odd theta characteristics. We then study the relationship between unramified double covers of a tropical curve and its theta characteristics, and use this to define the tropical Prym variety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1410
Number of pages20
JournalSelecta Mathematica, New Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The bulk of this paper was written during a Research in Pairs stay at Oberwolfach. We would like to thank the institute for providing ideal working conditions for exploring these ideas. The first author’s travel was supported by an AMS Simons travel grant, and the second author was partially support by DFG grant MA 4797/6-1. We are grateful to Matt Baker for insightful remarks on a previous version of this manuscript, and thank Sam Payne, Joe Rabinoff, Dhruv Ranganathan, and Farbod Shokrieh for fielding our questions. Finally, we thank the referees for their insightful remarks.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature.


  • 14H40
  • 14T05

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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