How can I determine the size of the largest collection of $k$-element subsets of an $n$-element set such that each pair of subsets has at most $m$ elements in common?

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    $\begingroup$ The question is slightly confusing: I believe you mean something like "what is the largest collection of k-element subsets of an n-element set such that each pair of subsets has at most m elements in common?" but I might be wrong. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2010 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's exactly what I meant! Thanks! $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2010 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


I think this problem is still open, but the following might be useful:

Ray-Chaudhuri-Wilson Theorem:

Let $L$ be a set of $m$ integers and $F$ be an $L$-intersecting $k$-uniform family of subsets of a set of $n$ elements, where $m \le k$, then

$|F| \le {n \choose m}$


$k$-uniform family is a set of subsets, each subset being of size k.

An $L$-intersecting family is such that the intersection size of any two distinct sets in the family is in $L$.

The following result of Frankl gives us a lower bound

Frankl's Result:

For every $k \ge m \ge 1$ and $n \ge 2k^{2}$ there exists a $k$-uniform family $F$ of size $> (\frac{n}{2k})^{m}$ on $n$ points such that $|A \cap B| \le m-1$ for any two distinct sets $A,B \in F$.


For an algorithm for constructing such sets (based on Frankl's result) refer: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2955318/creating-combinations-that-have-no-more-one-intersecting-element/2955527#2955527

  • $\begingroup$ Do you happen to have a source for Frenkl's result? $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2021 at 6:02

Hi Please refer this link: http://gilkalai.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/extremal-combinatorics-iv-shifting/

You can also look here as well to get more idea for this type of problems: https://mathoverflow.net/questions/25067/given-n-k-element-subsets-of-n-is-there-a-small-subset-a-of-n-which-intersects-t


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