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35
votes
6answers
3k views

Is it easy to produce hard-to-color graphs?

This question arises from my recent visit to my daughter's second-grade class, where I led some discussion and activities on graph coloring (see Math for seven-year-olds). In one such activity, each ...
27
votes
5answers
3k views

How many binary operations are associative?

Let $X$ be a finite set of $n$ elements, and consider a binary operation $\odot: X \times X \rightarrow X$. There are $n^{n^2}$ such binary operations, as the $n \times n$ table entries can each be ...
21
votes
5answers
911 views

Sequences with integral means

Let $S(n)$ be the sequence whose first element is $n$, and from then onward, the next element is the smallest natural number ${\ge}1$ that ensures that the mean of all the numbers in the sequence is ...
19
votes
5answers
880 views

Three-halves-free words (analogous to square-free)

A square-free word is a string of symbols (a "word") that avoids the pattern $XX$, where $X$ is any consecutive sequence of symbols in the string. For alphabets of two symbols, the longest square-free ...
19
votes
1answer
324 views

Hidden points in polygons

Let $h(n)$ be the largest number of mutually invisible points that can be located in a polygon $P$ of $n$ vertices. Two points $x$ and $y$ are mutually invisible if the segment $xy$ contains a point ...
19
votes
2answers
667 views

Generating random finite groups

I would like a method to efficiently generate a random finite group of a given order $n$. If there are $g(n)$ non-isomorphic groups of order $n$, ideally each group would occur with probability ...
18
votes
2answers
790 views

Is there a discrete Cerf theory?

Towards the end of the 1990's, Robin Forman developed a discrete version of Morse theory, which concerns maps from a simplicial complex to $\mathbb{R}$ satisfying a combinatorial analogue to the ...
17
votes
1answer
508 views

Longest of random worm-like paths in $\mathbb{Z}^2$

Imagine at each lattice point of $\mathbb{Z}^2$ within $[1,3n]^2$, with coordinates $\equiv 2 \bmod 3$, we place, with equal probability, one of these six patterns:       The result ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

Has any attempt been made to classify finite groupoids?

I recently stumbled upon the Mathieu groupoid and I found them fascinating. It appears as a subset of $S_{13}$ which is not closed under multiplication, but it turns out to be a groupoid with 13 ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

Two questions from combinatorics on words

Question 1. Assume that an infinite word $u\in\{0,1\}^{\mathbb Z}$ is not balanced. Is it true that there exists a finite 0-1 word $w$ such that $0w01w1$ or $1w10w0$ is a factor of $u$? Is it true ...
14
votes
1answer
695 views

Is every graph the center of some other graph?

The center of a graph $G$ is the set of vertices that minimize the largest distance to vertices in $G$, e.g., in the graph below, that radius is $4$:           Define the ...
14
votes
3answers
809 views

Partitioning the integers $1$ through $n$ so that the product of the elements in one set is equal to the sum of the elements in the other

I asked this question at math.SE a couple of months ago and only got a partial answer, so I thought I would try here. It is known that, for $n \geq 5$, it is possible to partition the integers ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Special arithmetic progressions involving perfect squares

Prove that there are infinitely many positive integers $a$, $b$, $c$ that are consecutive terms of an arithmetic progression and also satisfy the condition that $ab+1$, $bc+1$, $ca+1$ are all perfect ...
13
votes
2answers
581 views

Bit String Bijection

I am searching for a bijection between two types of bit strings (strings of 0's and 1's) both of even length (2n). The restriction on the first type of bit string is that they must have the same ...
13
votes
1answer
401 views

Minimal “sumset basis” in the discrete linear space $\mathbb F_2^n$

For a set $C\subseteq \mathbb F_2^n$, let $2C=C+C:=\{\alpha+\beta\colon \alpha,\beta\in C\}$. I want to find $C$ of the smallest possible size such that $2C=\mathbb F_2^n$. Let $m(n)$ be the size of a ...
13
votes
1answer
468 views

Does erosion mix faster than a riffle shuffle?

It is a famous result of Aldous and Diaconis1 that seven shuffles are necessary and suffice to approximately randomize 52 cards.2 Here the shuffles are the standard riffle shuffle, where the ...
13
votes
1answer
438 views

Is there an unambiguous CFL whose complement is not context-free?

I'm doing a little bit of research about context-free languages. A question that's popped up is whether or not there exists an unambiguous context-free language whose complement is not a context-free ...
11
votes
7answers
675 views

Finite-space dynamical systems

This question is quite open-ended, but I will formulate several sub-questions that I'll try to make precise. It is about finite-state dynamical system: start with a finite set $X$, with say $n$ ...
11
votes
2answers
331 views

The most number of points that realize only $k$ distinct distances

For $k \ge 1$, let $f_d(k)$ be the largest possible number of points $p_i$ in $\mathbb{R}^d$ that determine at most $k$ distinct (Euclidean) distances, $\|p_i-p_j\|$. Example. For points in the plane ...
10
votes
12answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
565 views

What is the probability that two random permutations have the same order?

I am interested in the orders of random permutations. Since the law of the logarithm of the order of a permutation converges to a normal law (for instance Erdös-Turan Statistical group theory III), ...
10
votes
1answer
240 views

Finding combinatorial models / statistics

In many cases in combinatorics and especially algebraic combinatorics with some representation theory, the main problem is about finding the correct statistic on a mathematical object. For example, ...
10
votes
1answer
153 views

Optimal shape for stabbing balls in $\mathbb{R}^3$

I have radius $r < \frac{1}{2}$ congruent balls with centers randomly distributed uniformly within a region, say, within a unit-radius sphere $S$. I shoot a ray/path through $S$, hoping to ...
9
votes
5answers
540 views

Minimal blocking objects with shadows like a cube

This is a more geometric version of the previous question, "Lattice-cube minimal blocking sets". I will first specialize to $\mathbb{R}^3$, $d=3$. View an $n \times n \times n$ cube $C_3(n)$ as ...
9
votes
1answer
433 views

Is this (funny) combinatorial optimization problem NP-hard ? (cutting numbers and placing them in urns)

The parameters of the problem are $m$ numbers which are integers (these numbers are denoted $b_i$), $n$ urns and in each urn, we can place $C$ numbers. We assume $nC \geq m$ so that the problem is ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

How to characterize a Self-avoiding path.

I cannot find any answer to that apparently simple problem : On a square lattice, a path is given by a sequence of relative moves in {"move forward", "turn right" and "turn left"}. Is there a rule ...
8
votes
2answers
495 views

Three half circles on the plane may not meet nicely

Let $H$ denote the union of the northen hemisphere of the unit circle $S^{1}$ with the interval $[-1,1]$ on the $x$-axis. That is, $H=\{(x,\sqrt{1-x^{2}}):-1\le x\le 1\}\cup\{(x,0):-1\le x\le 1\}$ ...
8
votes
2answers
194 views

Repeats of all binary strings of length k

The question seems like it should be known, but I was not able to find it anywhere. How many binary strings of length $n$ are required so that for every $k$ positions in these strings, all $2^k$ ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

palindromic subsequences

I'd like any insight or references to the following two conjectures (see the glossary below for definitions): Conjecture 1: For any string $x$, there exists a longest common subsequence of $x$ and ...
8
votes
1answer
375 views

Die-rolling Hamiltonian cycles

Let $R$ be a rectangular region of the integer lattice $\mathbb{Z}^2$, each of whose unit squares is labeled with a number in $\lbrace 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 \rbrace$. Say that such a labeled $R$ is ...
8
votes
1answer
360 views

Is this a new formula? $\Delta^d x^n/d! = \sum_k \left[ x \atop k\right]{ k+n \brace x + d}(-1)^{x+k}$

$$\frac{\Delta^d x^n}{d!} = \sum_k \left[ x \atop k\right]{ k+n \brace x + d}(-1)^{x+k}$$ Where $x$, $n$ and $d$ are non-negative integers, $\Delta^d$ is the $d$-th difference with respect to ...
7
votes
9answers
472 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
307 views

Iteration of a 2D map involving absolute value: phase transition?

I was looking at this map: $f(x,y) \mapsto (|x-y|,x)$, starting from some point with coordinates $(x,y) \in [0,1]^2$, and iterating: $(x,y),\, f(x,y), \, f^2(x,y), \,f^3(x,y), \ldots$. It displays ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Discrete Mathematics textbooks for undergraduates

For the first time, I will be teaching a course on Discrete Mathematics for electrical and computer undergraduates students. I intend to focus on practical applications. I would be grateful if ...
7
votes
1answer
819 views

A Question about Palindromic Numbers and System of Arithmetic Progression

Based from Harminc and Sotak's result, www.fq.math.ca/Scanned/36-3/harminc.pdf We know that under certain condition, an arithmetic progression can contain an infinitely many palindromes. My question ...
7
votes
1answer
6k views

How to compute KL-divergence when PMF contains 0s?

From the Wikipedia page on Kullback-Leibler divergence, the way to compute this metric is to utilize the following formula: The way I understand this is to compute the PMFs of two given sample sets ...
7
votes
1answer
844 views

Integer solution to special system of linear equations

This problem appear in my research, but I am unable to solve it. There should be an easy argument, but I have not yet found it. Informal version An integer $k\geq 2$ is fixed. We are given a matrix ...
7
votes
2answers
502 views

A continuous function for defining unique values to a 1024x1024 image with a 24 bit 3 color channel image

I need to generate a color map which I am not sure exist. I have a 1024x1024 image which would contain 2^20 pixels. I have 3 color channels which each have 8 bits which would leave us with 2^24 ...
7
votes
1answer
271 views

Number of median graphs?

What is the number of $n$-vertex median graphs? These graphs generalize hypercubes and trees, and have many applications. It seems unlikely that a closed form expression is known, so I would also be ...
7
votes
3answers
543 views

Computing the lexicographic indices of integer partition

If we order all the partitions of a integer in a lexicographic order, how can we compute the position of each partition in this order without having to explicitly list all other partitions that ...
7
votes
1answer
238 views

Recursive sequence of binomial random variables

Fix $p>0$ and define a recursive sequence of random variables with $X_1 =1$ and $$X_{k+1} = X_k + \text{Bin}(X_k,p).$$ Thus, $\mathbf E [ X_k ] = (1+p)^k$. I would like a left tail bound. Perhaps, ...
7
votes
0answers
62 views

Factoring a multiset into a product of two multisets

Given a multiset $S$ of $mn$ numbers, how hard is to find multisets $A$ and $B$, of $m$ and $n$ numbers respectively, such that $$ S = \{ xy \mid x\in A, y\in B \}~~~~\text{(multiset sense)}, $$ or ...
6
votes
3answers
553 views

Cylinders dividing $\mathbb{R}^{3}$

Consider $n$ affine copies of a compact cylinder, say $S^{1}\times [-3,3]$ with top and botom, sitting inside $\mathbb{R}^{3}$. For each $n$ we may ask ourselves how to arrange the $n$ cylinders so ...
6
votes
3answers
865 views

References on techniques for solving equations with discontinuous functions such as floor and ceiling?

Here I describe the sort of reference I'm after with a motivating example. I am not seeking solutions to my equations on this forum; I'm quite happy to do that myself. Rather, I'm asking for some good ...
6
votes
1answer
451 views

Prime labelling of graphs

A prime labeling of a graph is an injective function $f: V(G) \to \{1, 2, ..., |V(G)|\}$ such that for every pair of adjacent vertices $u$ and $v$, $\text{gcd}(f(u), f(v)) = 1$ (labels of any two ...
6
votes
1answer
280 views

A variation on Bulgarian solitare

It appears that a variation on Bulgarian solitare has a fixed point regardless of the starting $n$. For example, let $n=69$, and consider this partition: $$ (8,8,7,7,5,5,5,5,5,4,3,3,2,2) $$ In ...
6
votes
1answer
392 views

A set of integers whose factorial can be written as a product of two factorials

I am trying to collect informations concerning the set $$\mathcal{A}=\left\{n\in\mathbb{N} \mid (\exists k,l\in\{2,3,\dots,n-2\})(n!=k!l!)\right\}.$$ It seems not much is known about the set ...
6
votes
1answer
88 views

Above/below directed graph on cells of arrangement of lines

This question concerns the structure of a directed graph built on the cells of an arrangement of lines. My basic question is whether this graph has been studied before, perhaps in another guise. I ...
6
votes
1answer
553 views

Calculating a specific joint probability involving sums of binomial distributions

The following might look like a simple problem - but the question has been unanswered for more than a week on math.stackexchange.com, and I have asked quite a few of the Ph.d. students at our ...
6
votes
0answers
91 views

Checking if a multiplication table represents a group [duplicate]

Given an $n \times n$ multiplication table, can one check if it represents a group in $o(n^3)$ time? All properties can be checked by mindless try-all possibilities loops: Whether there is an ...