Let $T$ be a linear endomorphism of a $2m$-dimensional vector space. An $m$-dimensional subspace $W$ is said to be $T$-splitting if $W$ intersects $TW$ trivially.
When the underlying field is finite of order $q$ and $T$ is diagonal with distinct eigenvalues, the number of splitting subspaces is essentially the the generating function of chord diagrams weighted by their number of crossings with variable $q$. This generating function was studied by Touchard in the context of the stamp folding problem. Touchard obtained a compact form for this generating function, which was explained more clearly by Riordan.
We provide a formula for the number of splitting subspaces for a general operator $T$ in terms of the number of $T$-invariant subspaces of various dimensions. Specializing to diagonal matrices with distinct eigenvalues gives an unexpected and new proof of the Touchard–Riordan formula.
This is based on joint work with Samrith Ram.