The existing constructions of derived Lie and sh-Lie brackets involve multilinear maps that are used to define higher order differential operators. In this paper, we prove the equivalence of three different definitions of higher order operators. We then introduce a unifying theme for building derived brackets and show that two prevalent derived Lie bracket constructions are equivalent. Two basic methods of constructing derived strict sh-Lie brackets are also shown to be essentially the same. So far, each of these derived brackets is defined on an abelian subalgebra of a Lie algebra. We describe, as an alternative, a cohomological construction of derived sh-Lie brackets. Namely, we prove that a unital differential algebra with a graded homotopy commutative and associative product and an odd, square-zero operator (that commutes with the differential) gives rise to an sh-Lie structure on the cohomology via derived brackets. The method is in particular applicable to differential vertex operator algebras.
Journal of Homotopy and Related Structures, Vol. 3(2008), No. 1, pp. 385-403