Abstract:
Let $\mathcal P_X$ and $\mathcal S_X$ be the partition monoid and symmetric group on an infinite set $X$. We show that $\mathcal P_X$ may be generated by $\mathcal S_X$ together with two (but no fewer) additional partitions, and we classify the pairs $\alpha,\beta\in\mathcal P_X$ for which $\mathcal P_X$ is generated by $\mathcal S_X\cup\{\alpha,\beta\}$. We also show that $\mathcal P_X$ may be generated by the set $\mathcal E_X$ of all idempotent partitions together with two (but no fewer) additional partitions. In fact, $\mathcal P_X$ is generated by $\mathcal E_X\cup\{\alpha,\beta\}$ if and only if it is generated by $\mathcal E_X\cup\mathcal S_X\cup\{\alpha,\beta\}$. We also classify the pairs $\alpha,\beta\in\mathcal P_X$ for which $\mathcal P_X$ is generated by $\mathcal E_X\cup\{\alpha,\beta\}$. Among other results, we show that any countable subset of $\mathcal P_X$ is contained in a $4$-generated subsemigroup of $\mathcal P_X$, and that the length function on $\mathcal P_X$ is bounded with respect to any generating set.

Abstract:
Denote by $\mathcal T_n$ and $\mathcal S_n$ the full transformation semigroup and the symmetric group on the set $\{1,\ldots,n\}$, and $\mathcal E_n=\{1\}\cup(\mathcal T_n\setminus \mathcal S_n)$. Let $\mathcal T(X,\mathcal P)$ denote the set of all transformations of the finite set $X$ preserving a uniform partition $\mathcal P$ of $X$ into $m$ subsets of size $n$, where $m,n\geq2$. We enumerate the idempotents of $\mathcal T(X,\mathcal P)$, and describe the subsemigroup $S=\langle E\rangle$ generated by the idempotents $E=E(\mathcal T(X,\mathcal P))$. We show that $S=S_1\cup S_2$, where $S_1$ is a direct product of $m$ copies of $\mathcal E_n$, and $S_2$ is a wreath product of $\mathcal T_n$ with $\mathcal T_m\setminus \mathcal S_m$. We calculate the rank and idempotent rank of $S$, showing that these are equal, and we also classify and enumerate all the idempotent generating sets of minimal size. In doing so, we also obtain new results about arbitrary idempotent generating sets of $\mathcal E_n$.

Abstract:
We investigate the structure of the twisted Brauer monoid $\mathcal B_n^\tau$, comparing and contrasting it to the structure of the (untwisted) Brauer monoid $\mathcal B_n$. We characterise Green's relations and pre-orders on $\mathcal B_n^\tau$, describe the lattice of ideals, and give necessary and sufficient conditions for an ideal to be idempotent-generated. We obtain formulae for the rank (smallest size of a generating set) and (where applicable) the idempotent rank (smallest size of an idempotent generating set) of each principal ideal; in particular, when an ideal is idempotent-generated, its rank and idempotent rank are equal. As an application of our results, we also describe the idempotent-generated subsemigroup of $\mathcal B_n^\tau$ (which is not an ideal) as well as the singular ideal of $\mathcal B_n^\tau$ (which is neither principal nor idempotent-generated), and we deduce a result of Maltcev and Mazorchuk that the singular part of the Brauer monoid $\mathcal B_n$ is idempotent-generated.

Abstract:
We study the ideals of the partition, Brauer, and Jones monoids, establishing various combinatorial results on generating sets and idempotent generating sets via an analysis of their Graham-Houghton graphs. We show that each proper ideal of the partition monoid P_n is an idempotent generated semigroup, and obtain a formula for the minimal number of elements (and the minimal number of idempotent elements) needed to generate these semigroups. In particular, we show that these two numbers, which are called the rank and idempotent rank (respectively) of the semigroup, are equal to each other, and we characterize the generating sets of this minimal cardinality. We also characterize and enumerate the minimal idempotent generating sets for the largest proper ideal of P_n, which coincides with the singular part of P_n. Analogous results are proved for the ideals of the Brauer and Jones monoids; in each case, the rank and idempotent rank turn out to be equal, and all the minimal generating sets are described. We also show how the rank and idempotent rank results obtained, when applied to the corresponding twisted semigroup algebras (the partition, Brauer, and Temperley-Lieb algebras), allow one to recover formulas for the dimensions of their cell modules (viewed as cellular algebras) which, in the semisimple case, are formulas for the dimensions of the irreducible representations of the algebras. As well as being of algebraic interest, our results relate to several well-studied topics in graph theory including the problem of counting perfect matchings (which relates to the problem of computing permanents of {0,1}-matrices and the theory of Pfaffian orientations), and the problem of finding factorizations of Johnson graphs. Our results also bring together several well-known number sequences such as Stirling, Bell, Catalan and Fibonacci numbers.

Abstract:
The variant of a semigroup S with respect to an element a in S, denoted S^a, is the semigroup with underlying set S and operation * defined by x*y=xay for x,y in S. In this article, we study variants T_X^a of the full transformation semigroup T_X on a finite set X. We explore the structure of T_X^a as well as its subsemigroups Reg(T_X^a) (consisting of all regular elements) and E_X^a (consisting of all products of idempotents), and the ideals of Reg(T_X^a). Among other results, we calculate the rank and idempotent rank (if applicable) of each semigroup, and (where possible) the number of (idempotent) generating sets of the minimal possible size.

Abstract:
Let $\mathcal M_{mn}=\mathcal M_{mn}(\mathbb F)$ denote the set of all $m\times n$ matrices over a field $\mathbb F$, and fix some $n\times m$ matrix $A\in\mathcal M_{nm}$. An associative operation $\star$ may be defined on $\mathcal M_{mn}$ by $X\star Y=XAY$ for all $X,Y\in\mathcal M_{mn}$, and the resulting "sandwich semigroup" is denoted $\mathcal M_{mn}^A=\mathcal M_{mn}^A(\mathbb F)$. In this article, we study $\mathcal M_{mn}^A$ as well as its subsemigroups $\operatorname{Reg}(\mathcal M_{mn}^A)$ and $\mathcal E_{mn}^A$ (consisting of all regular elements and products of idempotents, respectively), as well as the ideals of $\operatorname{Reg}(\mathcal M_{mn}^A)$. Among other results, we: characterise the regular elements; determine Green's relations and preorders; calculate the minimal number of matrices (or idempotent matrices, if applicable) required to generate each semigroup we consider; and classify the isomorphisms between finite sandwich semigroups $\mathcal M_{mn}^A(\mathbb F_1)$ and $\mathcal M_{kl}^B(\mathbb F_2)$. Along the way, we develop a general theory of sandwich semigroups in a suitably defined class of partial semigroups related to Ehresmann-style arrows-only categories. We note that all our results have applications to the "variants" $\mathcal M_n^A$ of the full linear monoid $\mathcal M_n=\mathcal M_{nn}$ (in the case $m=n$), and to certain semigroups of linear transformations of restricted range or kernel (in the case that $\operatorname{rank}(A)$ is equal to one of $m,n$).

Abstract:
An involution on a semigroup S (or any algebra with an underlying associative binary operation) is a function f:S->S that satisfies f(xy)=f(y)f(x) and f(f(x))=x for all x,y in S. The set I(S) of all such involutions on S generates a subgroup C(S)= of the symmetric group Sym(S) on the set S. We investigate the groups C(S) for certain classes of semigroups S, and also consider the question of which groups are isomorphic to C(S) for a suitable semigroup S.

Abstract:
We calculate the rank and idempotent rank of the semigroup $E(X,P)$ generated by the idempotents of the semigroup $T(X,P)$, which consists of all transformations of the finite set $X$ preserving a non-uniform partition $P$. We also classify and enumerate the idempotent generating sets of this minimal possible size. This extends results of the first two authors in the uniform case.

Abstract:
The dual symmetric inverse monoid $\mathscr{I}_n^*$ is the inverse monoid of all isomorphisms between quotients of an $n$-set. We give a monoid presentation of $\mathscr{I}_n^*$ and, along the way, establish criteria for a monoid to be inverse when it is generated by completely regular elements.

Abstract:
We study the partial Brauer monoid and its planar submonoid, the Motzkin monoid. We conduct a thorough investigation of the structure of both monoids, providing information on normal forms, Green's relations, regularity, ideals, idempotent generation, minimal (idempotent) generating sets, and so on. We obtain necessary and sufficient conditions under which the ideals of these monoids are idempotent-generated. We find formulae for the rank (smallest size of a generating set) of each ideal, and for the idempotent rank (smallest size of an idempotent generating set) of the idempotent-generated subsemigroup of each ideal; in particular, when an ideal is idempotent-generated, the rank and idempotent rank are equal. Along the way, we obtain a number of results of independent interest, and we demonstrate the utility of the semigroup theoretic approach by applying our results to obtain important representation theoretic results concerning the corresponding diagram algebras, the partial (or rook) Brauer algebra and Motzkin algebra.