Discrete Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science |
According to the Göttsche conjecture (now a theorem), the degree $N^{d, \delta}$ of the Severi variety of plane curves of degree $d$ with $\delta$ nodes is given by a polynomial in $d$, provided $d$ is large enough. These "node polynomials'' $N_{\delta} (d)$ were determined by Vainsencher and Kleiman―Piene for $\delta \leq 6$ and $\delta \leq 8$, respectively. Building on ideas of Fomin and Mikhalkin, we develop an explicit algorithm for computing all node polynomials, and use it to compute $N_{\delta} (d)$ for $\delta \leq 14$. Furthermore, we improve the threshold of polynomiality and verify Göttsche's conjecture on the optimal threshold up to $\delta \leq 14$. We also determine the first 9 coefficients of $N_{\delta} (d)$, for general $\delta$, settling and extending a 1994 conjecture of Di Francesco and Itzykson.