Questions tagged [co.combinatorics]

Enumerative combinatorics, graph theory, order theory, posets, matroids, designs and other discrete structures. It also includes algebraic, analytic and probabilistic combinatorics.

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113
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61answers
24k views

Important formulas in combinatorics

Motivation: The poster for the conference celebrating Noga Alon's 60th birthday, fifteen formulas describing some of Alon's work are presented. (See this post, for the poster, and cash prizes offered ...
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7answers
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Is the set $ AA+A $ always at least as large as $ A+A $?

Let $A$ be a finite set of real numbers. Is it always the case that $|AA+A| \geq |A+A|$? My first instinct is that this is obviously true, and there is a one-line proof which I am foolishly ...
105
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4answers
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What do the stable homotopy groups of spheres say about the combinatorics of finite sets?

The Barratt-Priddy-Quillen(-Segal) theorem says that the following spaces are homotopy equivalent in an (essentially) canonical way: $\Omega^\infty S^\infty:=\varinjlim~ \Omega^nS^n$ $\mathbb{Z}\...
98
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5answers
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integral of a “sin-omial” coefficients=binomial

I find the following averaged-integral amusing and intriguing, to say the least. Is there any proof? For any pair of integers $n\geq k\geq0$, we have $$\frac1{\pi}\int_0^{\pi}\frac{\sin^n(x)}{\...
87
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3answers
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Why do combinatorial abstractions of geometric objects behave so well?

This question is inspired by a talk of June Huh from the recent "Current Developments in Mathematics" conference: http://www.math.harvard.edu/cdm/. Here are two examples of the kind of combinatorial ...
84
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17answers
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Google question: In a country in which people only want boys [closed]

Hi all! Google published recently questions that are asked to candidates on interviews. One of them caused very very hot debates in our company and we're unsure where the truth is. The question is: ...
83
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10answers
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Why do Bernoulli numbers arise everywhere?

I have seen Bernoulli numbers many times, and sometimes very surprisingly. They appear in my textbook on complex analysis, in algebraic topology, and of course, number theory. Things like the criteria ...
81
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5answers
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Can a row of five equilateral triangles tile a big equilateral triangle?

Can rotations and translations of this shape perfectly tile some equilateral triangle? I originally asked this on math.stackexchange where it was well received and we made some good progress. Here's ...
80
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11answers
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Sum of 'the first k' binomial coefficients for fixed n

I am interested in the function $$f(N,k)=\sum_{i=0}^{k} {N \choose i}$$ for fixed $N$ and $0 \leq k \leq N $. Obviously it equals 1 for $k = 0$ and $2^{N}$ for $k = N$, but are there any other ...
73
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9answers
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What are some examples of interesting uses of the theory of combinatorial species?

This is a question I've asked myself a couple of times before, but its appearance on MO is somewhat motivated by this thread, and sigfpe's comment to Pete Clark's answer. I've often heard it claimed ...
71
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3answers
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Wanted: a “Coq for the working mathematician”

Sorry for a possibly off-topic question -- there are four StackExchange subs each of which could be construed as the proper place for this question, and I've just picked the one I'm most familiar with....
70
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6answers
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Does every polyomino tile R^n for some n?

This is a question posed by Adam Chalcraft. I am posting it here because I think it deserves wider circulation, and because maybe someone already knows the answer. A polyomino is usually defined to ...
70
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4answers
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What is the amplituhedron?

The paper ”Scattering Amplitudes and the Positive Grassmannian” by Nima Arkani-Hamed, Jacob L. Bourjaily, Freddy Cachazo, Alexander B. Goncharov, Alexander Postnikov, and Jaroslav Trnka, introduces ...
68
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11answers
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Does War have infinite expected length?

My question concerns the (completely deterministic) card game known as War, played by seven-year-olds everywhere, such as my son Horatio, and sometimes also by others, such as their fathers. The ...
66
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8answers
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What is Lagrange Inversion good for?

I am planning an introductory combinatorics course (mixed grad-undergrad) and am trying to decide whether it is worth budgeting a day for Lagrange inversion. The reason I hesitate is that I know of ...
66
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8answers
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Existence of a zero-sum subset

Some time ago I heard this question and tried playing around with it. I've never succeeded to making actual progress. Here it goes: Given a finite (nonempty) set of real numbers, $S=\{a_1,a_2,\dots, ...
62
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7answers
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Identifying poisoned wines

The standard version of this puzzle is as follows: you have $1000$ bottles of wine, one of which is poisoned. You also have a supply of rats (say). You want to determine which bottle is the poisoned ...
62
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6answers
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How to recognise that the polynomial method might work

A couple of days ago I was at a nice seminar given by Christian Reiher, during which he told us about a short proof of the following special case of a theorem of Olson. Theorem. Let $(a_1,b_1),\dots,(...
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4answers
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Flipping coins on a budget

A coin is flipped $n$ times and you win if it comes up heads at least $k$ times. The coin is unusual in that you're allowed to pick the probability $p_i$ that it comes up heads on the $i$th flip, ...
58
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4answers
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What is a chess piece mathematically?

Historically, the current "standard" set of chess pieces wasn't the only existing alternative or even the standard one. For instance, the famous Al-Suli's Diamond Problem (which remained open for more ...
58
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1answer
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Which region in the plane with a given area has the most domino tilings?

I just finished teaching a class in combinatorics in which I included a fairly easy upper bound on the number of domino tilings of a region in the plane as a function of its area. So this led to ...
57
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7answers
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Euler-Maclaurin formula and Riemann-Roch

Let $Df$ denote the derivative of a function $f(x)$ and $\bigtriangledown f=f(x)-f(x-1)$ be the discrete derivative. Using the Taylor series expansion for $f(x-1)$, we easily get $\bigtriangledown = ...
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17answers
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Generalizations of the Four-Color theorem

The four color theorem asserts that every planar graph can be properly colored by four colors. The purpose of this question is to collect generalizations, variations, and strengthenings of the four ...
54
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1answer
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How to be rigorous about combinatorial algorithms?

1. The question This may be the worst question I've ever posed on MathOverflow: broad, open-ended and likely to produce heat. Yet, I think any progress that will be made here will be extremely useful ...
54
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1answer
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Intersecting Family of Triangulations

Let $\cal T_n$ be the family of all triangulations on an $n$-gon using $(n-3)$ non-intersecting diagonals. The number of triangulations in $\cal T_n$ is $C_{n-2}$ the $(n-2)$th Catalan number. Let $\...
53
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3answers
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cube + cube + cube = cube

The following identity is a bit isolated in the arithmetic of natural integers $$3^3+4^3+5^3=6^3.$$ Let $K_6$ be a cube whose side has length $6$. We view it as the union of $216$ elementary unit ...
53
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4answers
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Connectivity of the Erdős–Rényi random graph

It is well-known that if $\omega=\omega(n)$ is any function such that $\omega \to \infty$ as $n \to \infty$, and if $p \ge (\log{n}+\omega) / n$ then the Erdős–Rényi random graph $G(n,p)$ is ...
52
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10answers
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The “sensitivity” of 2-colorings of the d-dimensional integer lattice

Consider the $d$-dimensional integer lattice, $Z^d$. Call two points in $Z^d$ "neighbors" if their Euclidean distance is 1 (i.e., if they differ by 1 on exactly one coordinate). Let $C$ be a two-...
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(Approximately) bijective proof of $\zeta(2)=\pi^2/6$ ?

Given $A,B\in {\Bbb Z}^2$, write $A \leftrightarrows B$ if the interior of the line segment AB misses ${\Bbb Z}^2$. For $r>0$, define $S_r:=\{ \{A, B\} | A,B\in {\Bbb Z}^2,||A||<r,||B||<r, |...
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8answers
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Puzzle on deleting k bits from binary vectors of length 3k

Consider all $2^n$ different binary vectors of length $n$ and assume $n$ is an integer multiple of $3$. You are allowed to delete exactly $n/3$ bits from each of the binary vectors, leaving vectors ...
50
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2answers
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Is there winning strategy in Tetris ? What if Young diagrams are falling?

Question 1 Is there a winning strategy (algorithm to play infinitely) in Tetris, or is there a sequence of bricks which is impossible to pack without holes? Consider generalized Tetris with Young ...
49
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2answers
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vector balancing problem

I believe the solution posted to the arXiv on June 17 by Marcus, Spielman, and Srivastava is correct. This problem may be hard, so I don't expect an off-the-cuff solution. But can anyone suggest ...
49
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1answer
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Why are there 1024 Hamiltonian cycles on an icosahedron?

Fix one edge $e$ of the graph (1-skeleton) of an icosahedron. By a computer search, I found that there are 1024 Hamiltonian cycles that include $e$. [But see edit below re directed vs. undirected!] ...
48
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37answers
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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. ...
48
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4answers
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Do there exist chess positions that require exponentially many moves to reach?

By "chess" here I mean chess played on an $n\times n$ board with an unbounded number of (non-king) pieces. Some care is needed if you want to generalize some of the subtler rules of chess to an $n\...
47
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3answers
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Number of elements in the set $\{1,\cdots,n\}\cdot\{1,\cdots,n\}$

Let $A_n=\{a\cdot b : a,b \in \mathbb{N}, a,b\leq n\}$. Are there any estimates for $|A_n|$? Will it be $o(n^2)$?
47
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2answers
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Walsh Fourier Transform of the Möbius function

This question is related to this previous question where I asked about ordinary Fourier coefficients. Special case: is Möbius nearly Orthogonal to Morse ! Harold Calvin Marston Morse (24 March ...
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6answers
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Is there an “elegant” non-recursive formula for these coefficients? Also, how can one get proofs of these patterns?

Not sure if this is a "good" question for this forum or if it'll get panned, but here goes anyway... Consider this problem. I've been trying to find a formula to expand the "regular iteration" of "...
46
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3answers
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Does knight behave like a king in his infinite odyssey?

The Knight's Tour is a well-known mathematical chess problem. There is an extensive amount of research concerning this question in two/higher dimensional finite boards. Here, I would like to tackle ...
46
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1answer
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How to prove this polynomial always has integer values at all integers?

Let $m$ be any positive integer. $$ P_m(x)=\sum_{i=0}^{m}\sum_{j=0}^{m}{x+j\choose j}{x-1\choose j}{j\choose i}{m\choose i}{i\choose m-j}\frac{3}{(2i-1)(2j+1)(2m-2i-1)}. $$ Question: $P_m(x)$ always ...
46
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1answer
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Why is the Frankl conjecture hard?

This is a naive question that could justifiably be quickly closed. Nevertheless: Q. Why is Péter Frankl's conjecture so difficult? If any two sets in some family of sets have a union that also ...
45
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2answers
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Combinatorial interpretation of ${i\choose n}$, where $i^2=-1$

At MIT all departments have numbers, and math is 18. Last year MIT math majors produced a tee shirt that said ${i\choose 18}$ ("I choose 18") on the front, and on the back $$ \frac{34376687+...
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0answers
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Does every triangle-free graph with maximum degree at most 6 have a 5-colouring?

A very specific case of Reed's Conjecture Reed's $\omega$,$\Delta$, $\chi$ conjecture proposes that every graph has $\chi \leq \lceil \tfrac 12(\Delta+1+\omega)\rceil$. Here $\chi$ is the chromatic ...
44
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6answers
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Is the Jaccard distance a distance?

Wikipedia defines the Jaccard distance between sets A and B as $$J_\delta(A,B)=1-\frac{|A\cap B|}{|A\cup B|}.$$ There's also a book claiming that this is a metric. However, I couldn't find any ...
44
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7answers
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Conway's game of life for random initial position

What is the behavior of Conway's game of life when the initial position is random? -- We can ask this question on an infinite grid or on an $n$ by $n$ table (planar or on a torus). Specifically ...
44
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2answers
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Collapsible group words

What is the length $f(n)$ of the shortest nontrivial group word $w_n$ in $x_1,\ldots,x_n$ that collapses to $1$ when we substitute $x_i=1$ for any $i$? For example, $f(2)=4$, with the commutator $[...
44
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6answers
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Can we color Z^+ with n colors such that a, 2a, …, na all have different colors for all a?

For example for n=2 coloring odd numbers red, numbers of the form 4k+2 blue and so on works. This problem was posed in the KoMaL for n+1 prime, by Peter Pach Pal. I verified it for all n<30, I ...
44
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4answers
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Difficult examples for Frankl's union-closed conjecture

Frankl's well-known union-closed conjecture states that if F is a finite family of sets that is closed under taking unions (that is, if A and B belong to the family then so does $A\cup B$), then there ...
44
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1answer
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A = B (but not quite); 3-d arrays with multiple recurrences

Many years ago, I discovered the remarkable array (apparently originally discovered by Ramanujan) 1 1 3 2 10 15 6 40 105 105 24 196 700 1260 945 ...
44
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0answers
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On the first sequence without triple in arithmetic progression

In this Numberphile video (from 3:36 to 7:41), Neil Sloane explains an amazing sequence: It is the lexicographically first among the sequences of positive integers without triple in arithmetic ...

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