A finite classical polar space of rank \(n\) consists of the totally isotropic subspaces of a finite vector space equipped with a nondegenerate form such that \(n\) is the maximal dimension of such a subspace. A \(t\)-Steiner system in a finite classical polar space of rank \(n\) is a collection \(Y\) of totally isotropic \(n\)-spaces such that each totally isotropic \(t\)-space is contained in exactly one member of \(Y\). Nontrivial examples are known only for \(t=1\) and \(t=n-1\). We give an almost complete classification of such \(t\)-Steiner systems, showing that such objects can only exist in some corner cases. This classification result arises from a more general result on packings in polar spaces.

Mathematics Subject Classifications: 51E23, 05E30, 33C80

Keywords: Association schemes, codes, polar spaces, Steiner systems

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