I think I remember reading somewhere a glib (or is it deep?) quote, perhaps due to Rota?, which was something like

"All of combinatorics is essentially [or can be reduced to?] the representation theory of the symmetric group."

Does anyone know the actual quote / who said or wrote it / a reference to it? Or even a second-hand or third-hand reference, e.g. a paper where author X says "I've heard it said that..." or "Person Y told me that Rota once said..."

(I tried Googling, but found it difficult to come up with a query that got me quotations as opposed to lots of papers on representation theory, combinatorics, or the symmetric group. The quotation may of course be in such a paper, but the results were often so numerous as to be unhelpful.)

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    $\begingroup$ Reminds me of a thing I just read: math.ucla.edu/~pak/hidden/papers/Quotes/… $\endgroup$ – Andy B May 15 '13 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ This seems to fail badly in the case of hungarian style combinatorics :) $\endgroup$ – Dan Sălăjan May 15 '13 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ The converse may be true: the representation theory of the symmetric group can be reduced to combinatorics. $\endgroup$ – Geoff Robinson May 15 '13 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ Dan and Geoff: that's why I called it glib :). $\endgroup$ – Joshua Grochow May 15 '13 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry, it's fun :) $\endgroup$ – Dan Sălăjan May 15 '13 at 20:52

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