This tag is for basic questions about the study of finite or countable discrete structures — specifically how to count or enumerate elements in a set (perhaps of all possibilities) or any subset. It includes questions on permutations, combinations, bijective proofs, and generating functions. ...

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14
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1answer
1k views

Combinatorial proof of a Fibonacci identity: $n F_1 + (n-1)F_2 + \cdots + F_n = F_{n+4} - n - 3.$

Does anyone know a combinatorial proof of the following identity, where $F_n$ is the $n$th Fibonacci number? $$n F_1 + (n-1)F_2 + \cdots + F_n = F_{n+4} - n - 3$$ It's not in the place I thought it ...
14
votes
2answers
593 views

Shortest sequence containing all permutations

Given an integer $n$, define $s(n)$ to be the length of the shortest sequence $S = (a_1, \cdots a_{s(n)})$ such that every permutation of $\{1,\cdots,n\}$ is a subsequence of $S$. If $n=1$, then $S = ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Minimum number of integer-sided squares needed to tile an $m$ by $n$ rectangle.

Let $T(m,n)$ for integers $m,n$ be the least number of integer-sided squares needed to tile an $m\times n$ rectangle. Clearly $T(kx,ky)\leq T(x,y)$. Are there integers $x,y,k\gt 1$, such that ...
14
votes
1answer
295 views

How many strategies are there for this puzzle where one of n logicians must call his own hat's color among n?

$n$ logicians are wearing hats which can be of $n$ different colors. Each logician can see the colors of all hats except his own. The logicians must simultaneously call out a color; they win if at ...
14
votes
2answers
524 views

What is the probability that every pair of students studies together at some point?

A cohort in a school consists of 75 students who study for 6 years. Each year, the students are randomly distributed into 3 classrooms of 25 students each. What is the probability that, after 6 ...
14
votes
4answers
372 views

Proving $\sum_{k=0}^{2m}(-1)^k{\binom{2m}{k}}^3=(-1)^m\binom{2m}{m}\binom{3m}{m}$ (Dixon's identity)

I found the following formula in a book without any proof: $$\sum_{k=0}^{2m}(-1)^k{\binom{2m}{k}}^3=(-1)^m\binom{2m}{m}\binom{3m}{m}.$$ I don't know how to prove this at all. Could you show me how ...
14
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3answers
300 views

On a Putnam's 2009 problem [duplicate]

Find all even natural numbers $n$ such that the following is true: There is a non-constant function $f : \Bbb{R}^2 \longrightarrow \Bbb{Z}_2$ such that for any regular $n$-gon $A_1...A_n$, $f(A_1) + ...
14
votes
2answers
663 views

Combinatorial proof of arithmetic geometric mean inequality

It is a well known fact that for positive reals $x_1, x_2, \dots, x_n$, their arithmetic mean is no less than their geometric mean: $$ \frac{x_1 + x_2 + \dots + x_n}{n} \ge \sqrt[n]{x_1 x_2 \dots ...
14
votes
1answer
347 views

Show that $ \sum_{r=1}^{n-1}\binom{n-2}{r-1}r^{r-1}(n-r)^{n-r-2}= n^{n-2} $

Show that $$ \sum_{r=1}^{n-1}\binom{n-2}{r-1}r^{r-1}(n-r)^{n-r-2}= n^{n-2} $$ I don't know whether such identity already exists, or has been posted here before. I discovered this identity while ...
14
votes
2answers
526 views

In how many ways we can place $N$ mutually non-attacking knights on an $M \times M$ chessboard?

Given $N,M$ with $1 \le M \le 6$ and $1\le N \le 36$. In how many ways we can place $N$ knights (mutually non-attacking) on an $M \times M$ chessboard? For example: $M = 2, N = 2$, ans $= 6$ $M = 3, ...
14
votes
4answers
419 views

Gambling puzzle

A math friend of mine showed me this strange gambling puzzle. There is a button in a casino and every time you press it you can win either $1$ or $0$ dollars. The probability of winning $1$ dollar ...
14
votes
1answer
525 views

What is the combinatoric significance of an integral related to the exponential generating function?

Suppose that you have an exponential generating function.: $E(z)=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty} \frac{a_{n}z^{n}}{n!}$, and that the definition of $a_{n}$ can be reasonably extended to noninteger arguments. (the ...
14
votes
1answer
164 views

Involutions, RSK and Young Tableaux

Let $S_n$ be the symmetric group on $n$ elements. The Robinson-Schensted-Knuth (RSK) correspondence sends a permutation $\pi\in S_n$ to a pair of Standard Young Tableaux $(P,Q)$ with equal shapes ...
14
votes
1answer
207 views

The problem of the most visited point.

Represents the set $R_{n\times n}=\{1,2,\ldots, n\}\times\{1,2,\ldots, n\} $ as a rectangle of $n$ by $n$ as points in the figures below for exemples. How to calculate the number of circuits that ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

Why $0!$ is equal to $1$? [duplicate]

Many counting formulas involving factorials can make sense for the case $n= 0$ if we define $0!=1 $; e.g., Catalan number and the number of trees with a given number of vetrices. Now here is my ...
13
votes
5answers
426 views

How do we show the equality of these two summations?

How do you show the following? $$\sum \limits_{i=1}^{n}\ \sum \limits_{j=i}^{n}\ \sum \limits_{k=i}^{j}\ 1 = \sum \limits_{j=1}^{n}\ \sum \limits_{k=1}^{j}\ \sum \limits_{i=1}^{k}\ 1 $$ It's not ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

The $5n+1$ Problem

The Collatz Conjecture is a famous conjecture in mathematics that has lasted for over 70 years. It goes as follows: Define $f(n)$ to be as a function on the natural numbers by: $f(n) = n/2$ if $n$ ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Generating functions for combinatorics

I have no formal education in generating functions, but, based on another question, I have seen that they can be powerful for combinatorics. Are there a few general principles for using generating ...
13
votes
3answers
298 views

Integer sequences which quickly become unimaginably large, then shrink down to “normal” size again?

There are a number of integer sequences which are known to have a few "ordinary" size values, and then to suddenly grow at unbelievably fast rates. The TREE sequence is one of these sequences, which ...
13
votes
4answers
673 views

How this operation is called?

This operation is similar to discrete convolution and cross-correlation, but has binomial coefficients: $$f(n)\star g(n)=\sum_{k=0}^n \binom{n}{k}f(n-k)g(k) $$ Particularly, $$a^n\star ...
13
votes
1answer
500 views

Find the number of arrangements of $k \mbox{ }1'$s, $k \mbox{ }2'$s, $\cdots, k \mbox{ }n'$s - total $kn$ cards.

Find the number of arrangements of $k \mbox{ }1'$s, $k \mbox{ }2'$s, $\cdots, k \mbox{ }n'$s - total $kn$ cards - so that no same numbers appear consecutively. For $k=2$ we can compute it by using ...
13
votes
4answers
494 views

Intriguing polynomials coming from a combinatorial physics problem

For real $0<q<1$, integer $n >0 $ and integer $k\ge 0$, define $$[k, n]_q \equiv -\sum_{m=1}^{n} q^{m(k+1)} (q^{-n}; q)_m = -\sum_{m=1}^{n} q^{m(k+1)} \prod_{l=0}^{m-1} (1-q^{l-n})$$ ...
13
votes
2answers
791 views

Color an $n\times n$ square with $n$ colors

How many ways is there to color an $n\times n$ square grid with $n$ colors such that each column and each row contains exactly one $1\times 1$ square of each color? And how many ways if the same is ...
13
votes
2answers
327 views

How much would it cost to try every possible burger combination?

I was at a restaurant that allows you to build your own custom burger. I got bored and started to work out how many possible combinations of burger there could be. After figuring that out and sharing ...
13
votes
5answers
483 views

Number of ways to divide a stick of integer length $N$

Suppose we have a stick of integer length $N$. I'm looking for (preferably closed-form) formula that gives the numbers of ways in which we can divide the stick into 3 parts with distinct integral ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Automorphisms of the Petersen graph

I am trying to find out the automorphism group of the Petersen graph. My book carries the hint: "Show that the $\tbinom{5}{2}$ pairs from {1, . . . , 5} can be used to label the vertices in such a way ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How many knight's tours are there?

The knight's tour is a sequence of 64 squares on a chess board, where each square is visted once, and each subsequent square can be reached from the previous by a knight's move. Tours can be cyclic, ...
13
votes
2answers
206 views

Evaluate the determinant $\det\left[ \binom{2n}{n+i-j} \right]_{i,j=0}^{n-1}$

I am trying to show that: \begin{equation} \det\left[ \binom{2n}{n+i-j} \right]_{i,j=0}^{n-1}=\prod_{i=0}^{n-1} \frac{\binom{2n+i}{n}}{\binom{n+i}{n}} \end{equation} I have tried playing with the ...
13
votes
2answers
286 views

Combinatorial interpretation of this identity of Gauss?

Gauss came up with some bizarre identities, namely $$ \sum_{n\in\mathbb{Z}}(-1)^nq^{n^2}=\prod_{k\geq 1}\frac{1-q^k}{1+q^k}. $$ How can this be interpreted combinatorially? It strikes me as being ...
13
votes
4answers
758 views

Coloring the faces of a hypercube

I will restate the 3-D version of the problem. In how many ways can you color a regular cube with 2 colors up to a rotational isometry. The answer is of course a special case of Burnsides Lemma which ...
13
votes
1answer
653 views

Is it true that a connected graph has a spanning tree, if the graph has uncountably many vertices?

I found a proof that every connected graph (possibly infinite) has a spanning tree in Diestel's Graph Theory (Fourth Edition), Ch. 8 that uses Zorn's Lemma, but at a crucial step it seems to be ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

How to rotate n individuals at a dinner party so that every guest meets every other guests

I'm throwing an event where every individual is suppose to meet every other individual so I'm trying figure out how to rotate them. My friends say its easy but they have yet to come up with an answer ...
13
votes
2answers
332 views

A card game with no decisions

A friend showed me a mindless card game he plays, in which the initial state of the deck completely determines whether he wins or loses. The game is played as follows: Shuffle a standard $52$ card ...
13
votes
2answers
444 views

Signed Multinomial Expansion Coefficients?

I've been spending probably an undue amount of time trying to compute the coefficients of polynomials of the form $p_n(x_1, ..., x_n) = \displaystyle\prod_{\sigma \in \{ -1 , 1 \}^{n-1} } (x_1 + ...
13
votes
2answers
279 views

A question about the minesweeper game

This is just out of curiosity. Suppose the game has $m \times n$ boxes for positive integers $m$ and $n$. How can we make the sum of the numbers on a finished game the most? There are two extreme ...
13
votes
3answers
442 views

Probability of a winning consecutive $k$-subset out of $n$ coin flips

Assume we flip a coin $n$ times. A $k$-sequence is defined as any consecutive sequence of coin flips of length $k$. Call a $k$-sequence "winning" if there are strictly more heads than tails. What is ...
13
votes
1answer
305 views

How many $N$ of the form $2^n$ are there such that no digit is a power of $2$?

How many $N$ of the form $2^n,\text{ with } n \in \mathbb{N}$ are there such that no digit is a power of $2$? For this one the answer given is the $2^{16}$, but how could we prove that that this ...
13
votes
1answer
306 views

Enumerative Combinatorics

Sam has $255$ cakes, each labeled with a unique non-empty subset of $\{1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8\}$. Each day, he chooses one cake uniformly at random out of the cakes not yet eaten. Then, he eats that ...
13
votes
1answer
609 views

Rubik's cube interesting questions?

The upper bound for the number of moves required to solve a regular Rubik's cube has been shown to be 20. Two questions come to mind: Does this result have more general significance? What are the ...
13
votes
3answers
992 views

Proving $k \binom{n}{k} = n \binom{n-1}{k-1}$

Suppose we want to prove $$ k \binom{n}{k} = n \binom{n-1}{k-1}$$ In the LHS we are choosing a team of $k$ players from $n$ players. Then we are choosing a captain. In the RHS we are choosing a ...
12
votes
8answers
3k views

Calculating the number of possible paths through some squares

I'm prepping for the GRE. Would appreciate if someone could explain the right way to solve this problem. It seems simple to me but the site where I found this problem says I'm wrong but doesn't ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Simple combinatorics question - caught off guard!

Prove that ${{2n}\choose{n}}$ is even for $n \in \mathbb{N}$. This one caught me off-guard when answering (or attempting to answer!) this for a student today. I tried this approach: ...
12
votes
7answers
482 views

Prove that $2^n < \binom{2n}{n} < 2^{2n}$

Prove that $2^n < \binom{2n}{n} < 2^{2n}$. This is proven easily enough by splitting it up into two parts and then proving each part by induction. First part: $2^n < \binom{2n}{n}$. The ...
12
votes
5answers
501 views

Combinatorially showing $\lim_{n\to \infty}{\frac{2n\choose n}{4^n}}=0$

I am trying to show that $\lim_{n\to \infty}{\frac{2n\choose n}{4^n}}=0$. I found that using stirling's approximation, I can get: $$ \lim_{n\to \infty}{\frac{2n\choose n}{4^n}}= \lim_{n\to ...
12
votes
6answers
827 views

Proving a binomial sum identity

Mathematica tells me that $$\sum _{k=0}^n { n \choose k} \frac{(-1)^k}{2k+1} = \frac{(2n)!!}{(2n+1)!!}.$$ Although I have not been able to come up with a proof. Proofs, hints, or references are all ...
12
votes
4answers
10k views

How many ways are there for 8 men and 5 women to stand in a line so that no two women stand next to each other?

I have a homework problem in my textbook that has stumped me so far. There is a similar one to it that has not been assigned and has an answer in the back of the textbook. It reads: How many ways ...
12
votes
2answers
480 views

If 1 boy knows r girls and 1 girl knows r boys ,then number of boys=girls

Yet another question from BdMO 2013 Nationals: In a class,every boy knows $r$ number of girls and every girl knows $r$ number of boys.Show that there are equal number of boys and girls[Assume that ...
12
votes
3answers
517 views

How to get ${n \choose 0}^2+{n \choose 1}^2+{n \choose 2}^2+\cdots+{n \choose n}^2 = {x \choose y}$

I found this in my test book, any hints? Given $${n \choose 0}^2+{n \choose 1}^2+{n \choose 2}^2+\cdots+{n \choose n}^2 = {x \choose y}$$ Then find the value of x and y in n. According to the answer ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Proving identities like $\sum_{k=1}^nk{n\choose k}^2=n{2n-1\choose n}$ combinatorially

I have to give a combinatorial proof of $$\sum_{k=1}^nk{n\choose k}^2=n{2n-1\choose n}.$$ I find it difficult to solve such problems. I'm not a brilliant person and never will be so I need to have ...
12
votes
3answers
575 views

Best Strategy for a die game

You are allowed to roll a die up to six times. Anytime you stop, you get the dollar amount of the face value of your last roll. Question: What is the best strategy? According to my calculation, for ...