Let $\mathbf{k}$ be a commutative $\mathbb{Q}$-algebra. (We could play the same game over any commutative ring $\mathbf{k}$, but this would be a bit more technical, so let me avoid it.)

Fix a nonnegative integer $n$. A *binary form* shall mean a homogeneous
polynomial $f=f\left( x,y\right) \in\mathbf{k}\left[ x,y\right] $. Any
binary form $f\left( x,y\right) $ of degree $2n$ can be written uniquely in
the form $f\left( x,y\right) =\sum\limits_{i=0}^{2n}\dbinom{2n}{i}a_{i}
x^{2n-i}y^{i}$ for some scalars $a_{0},a_{1},\ldots,a_{2n}\in\mathbf{k}$
(which are simply the coefficients of $f$, rescaled by binomial coefficients).
Let $\mathcal{F}_{2n}$ denote the $\mathbf{k}$-module of all binary forms of
degree $2n$. The matrix ring $\mathbf{k}^{2\times2}$ acts on the $\mathbf{k}
$-module $\mathcal{F}_{2n}$ by the rule
\begin{equation}
\left(
\begin{array}[c]{cc}
a & b\\
c & d
\end{array}
\right) \cdot f=f\left( ax+cy,bx+dy\right) .
\end{equation}
(In other words, a matrix $\left(
\begin{array}[c]{cc}
a & b\\
c & d
\end{array}
\right) \in\mathbf{k}^{2\times2}$ acts on a binary form by substituting
$ax+cy$ and $bx+dy$ for the variables $x$ and $y$. This is called a "change of
variables", at least if the matrix is invertible.)

The *catalecticant* $\operatorname*{Cat}f$ of a binary form $f\left(
x,y\right) $ of degree $2n$ is a scalar, defined as follows: Write $f\left(
x,y\right) $ in the form $f\left( x,y\right) =\sum\limits_{i=0}^{2n}\dbinom{2n}
{i}a_{i}x^{2n-i}y^{i}$, then set
\begin{equation}
\operatorname*{Cat}f=\det\left(
\begin{array}[c]{cccc}
a_{0} & a_{1} & \cdots & a_{n}\\
a_{1} & a_{2} & \cdots & a_{n+1}\\
\vdots & \vdots & \ddots & \vdots\\
a_{n} & a_{n+1} & \cdots & a_{2n}
\end{array}
\right) =\det\left( \left( a_{i+j-2}\right) _{1\leq i\leq n+1,\ 1\leq
j\leq n+1}\right) .
\end{equation}
A classical result, going back to
Sylvester (*On the Principles of the Calculus of Forms*) in 1852 (who, in turn, ascribes it
to Cayley), then says that $\operatorname*{Cat}f$ is a $\operatorname*{GL}
\nolimits_{2}\mathbf{k}$-invariant (in an appropriate sense of this word,
i.e., $\operatorname*{GL}\nolimits_{2}\mathbf{k}$ transforms
$\operatorname*{Cat}$ by multiplication with an appropriate power of the
determinant). More precisely, any binary form $f\left( x,y\right) $ of
degree $2n$ and every matrix $A\in\mathbf{k}^{2\times2}$ satisfy
\begin{equation}
\operatorname*{Cat}\left( A\cdot f\right) =\left( \det A\right) ^{n\left(
n+1\right) }\cdot\operatorname*{Cat}f.
\label{catalecticant1}
\tag{1}
\end{equation}

Question.Is there a purely algebraic/combinatorial proof of \eqref{catalecticant1}?

These days, \eqref{catalecticant1} is usually seen as a consequence of the
fact that if $\mathbf{k}$ is an algebraically closed field of characteristic
$0$, then a binary form $f\left( x,y\right) $ of degree $2n$ satisfies
$\operatorname*{Cat}f=0$ if and only if $f$ can be written as $\sum_{j=1}
^{n}\left( p_{j}x+q_{j}y\right) ^{2n}$ for some $2n$ elements $p_{1}
,p_{2},\ldots,p_{n},q_{1},q_{2},\ldots,q_{n}\in\mathbf{k}$. This is proven,
e.g., in
J. M. Selig, *Sylvester's Catalecticant*. Once this fact is granted, the
equality \eqref{catalecticant1} follows using some technical Nullstellensatz
arguments (I believe so; the details are somewhat annoying to verify,
requiring e.g. to show that $\operatorname*{Cat}f$ is irreducible as a
polynomial in the $a_{0},a_{1},\ldots,a_{2n}$ for $n>0$).

I dislike this argument for the technicalities involved, including the passage to an algebraically closed field and the use of the Nullstellensatz (at least for principal ideals). It seems to me that \eqref{catalecticant1} should have a purely algebraic proof, using properties of determinants. Sylvester might have had one, but I find his paper impossible to decipher. Does anyone know such a proof?

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