33
votes
33answers
4k views

Structures that turn out to exhibit a symmetry even though their definition doesn't

Sometimes (often?) a structure depending on several parameters turns out to be symmetric w.r.t. interchanging two of the parameters, even though the definition gives a priori no clue of that symmetry. ...
22
votes
4answers
953 views

Multiplying by irrational numbers in combinatorial problems

This is getting no attention on stackexchange. Everybody knows that the number of derangements of a set of size $n$ is the nearest integer to $n!/e$. It had escaped my attention until last week, ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Two questions about combinatorics journals

Hello, I have two questions regarding combinatorics journals. I hope that this is the right place for such questions. Which combinatorics/DM journals would you consider as the "top tier"? I tried ...
3
votes
1answer
229 views

Repertory of the different sorts of operads

Many different types of operads have emerged in recent years (symmetric, shuffle, cyclic, anticyclic, coloured, etc.). I would like, for any of these, list the following data: Description of the ...
6
votes
4answers
858 views

fourier analytic proofs

While searching through Mathoverflow, I found out a fourier analytic proof of the Isoperimetric Inequality.Also, by google search I found a fourier analytic proof of Quadratic Reciprocity theorem.I ...
10
votes
3answers
419 views

Applications of idempotent ultrafilters

Recently Justin Moore has posted a solution to the amenability of Thompson's group F. A key(?) step exploits the existence of idempotent ultrafilters on $\mathbb N$ to construct an idempotent measure ...
8
votes
12answers
949 views

Continuous notions with compelling discrete analogues

Following up on the previous MO question "Are there any important mathematical concepts without discrete analogue?", I'd like to ask the opposite: what are examples of notions in math that were not ...
3
votes
11answers
536 views

A list of symmetric statistics

I would like to have a list of pairs (or tuples) of combinatorial statistics that are (known or conjectured) to have symmetric distribution. Ideally, something like this has already been compiled, ...
17
votes
3answers
639 views

Sperner Lemma Applications

I was always fascinated with this result. Sperner's lemma is a combinatorial result which can prove some pretty strong facts, as Brouwer fixed point theorem. I know at least another application of ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

What information is contained in the Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials?

The Kazhdan-Lusztig polynomials contain all kinds of representation theoretic (and other kinds of) informations. For example the character of a simple module over a Lie algebra with Weyl group $W$ ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Rhombus tilings with more than three directions

The point of this question is to construct a list of references on the following subject: Fix vectors $v_1$, $v_2$, ..., $v_g$ in $\mathbb{R}^2$, all lying in a half plane in that cyclic order. I am ...
10
votes
3answers
915 views

Proofs of parity results via the Handshaking lemma

I particularly like the following strategy to prove that the number of some combinatorial objects is even: to construct a graph, in which they correspond to vertices of odd degree (=valency). Let me ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Undecidable problems in geometry

Are there any (many) algorithmically undecidable problems in computational (combinatorial/discrete) geometry? Update: the Wang tiles answer the question with "any". (I have somewhat overlooked to ...
23
votes
18answers
5k views

Interesting and Accessible Topics in Graph Theory

This summer, I will be teaching an introductory course in graph theory to talented high school seniors. The intent of the course is not to establish proficiency in graph theory, per se. Rather, I hope ...
5
votes
9answers
1k views

Examples of two different descriptions of a set that are not obviously equivalent?

I am teaching a course in enumerative combinatorics this semester and one of my students asked for deeper clarification regarding the difference between a "combinatorial" and a "bijective" proof. ...
7
votes
9answers
429 views

What are some early examples of creation of lists / catalogues of (particularly) combinatorial objects?

A lot of effort in discrete maths / combinatorics is expended in the construction of lists, catalogues or census [sic] of combinatorial objects such as groups, graphs, designs etc. These catalogues ...
20
votes
8answers
1k views

Examples of sequences whose asymptotics can't be described by elementary functions

It is somewhat miraculous to me that even very complicated sequences $a_n$ which arise in various areas of mathematics have the property that there exists an elementary function $f(n)$ such that $a_n ...
5
votes
3answers
256 views

Medium-Sized Calculations and Organization

This is not a math question as much as a process question. For the first time in my (very short) career, I find myself doing one of those messy calculations, where each 'line' of the calculation can ...
14
votes
11answers
6k views

Different ways of proving that two sets are equal

I'm not sure if this is a soft question, or should be community wiki. I was explaining to a student how to prove that two sets were equal using what I called the 'oldest trick in the book': to show ...
18
votes
8answers
1k views

Cryptomorphisms

I am curious to collect examples of equivalent axiomatizations of mathematical structures. The two examples that I have in mind are Topological Spaces. These can be defined in terms of open sets, ...
29
votes
20answers
3k views

Generalizations of Planar Graphs

This is a follow up to Harrison's question: why planar graphs are so exceptional. I would like to ask about (and collect answers to) various notions, in graph theory and beyond graph theory (topology; ...
33
votes
12answers
5k views

Combinatorial results without known combinatorial proofs

Stanley likes to keep a list of combinatorial results for which there is no known combinatorial proof. For example, until recently I believe the explicit enumeration of the de Brujin sequences fell ...