Combinatorics: A Very Short Introduction

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Oxford University Press, 2016 - Mathematics - 157 pages
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How many possible sudoku puzzles are there? In the lottery, what is the chance that two winning balls have consecutive numbers? Who invented Pascal's triangle? (it was not Pascal)
Combinatorics, the branch of mathematics concerned with selecting, arranging, and listing or counting collections of objects, works to answer all these questions. Dating back some 3000 years, and initially consisting mainly of the study of permutations and combinations, its scope has broadened to include topics such as graph theory, partitions of numbers, block designs, design of codes, and latin squares. In this Very Short Introduction Robin Wilson gives an overview of the field and its applications in mathematics and computer theory, considering problems from the shortest routes covering certain stops to the minimum number of colours needed to colour a map with different colours for neighbouring countries.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
 

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User Review  - gottfried_leibniz - LibraryThing

Even though, this is a small introduction book –– I still did not completely understand everything. It seems that some of the concepts need deeper thinking, and reflecting on ideas. If you are into ... Read full review

Contents

What is combinatorics?
1
Four types of problem
7
Permutations andcombinations
28
A combinatorial zoo
50
Tilings and polyhedra
72
Graphs
86
Square arrays
109
Designs and geometry
123
Partitions
140
Further reading
151
Index
153
Very Short Introduction
158
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About the author (2016)


Professor Robin Wilson taught at the Open University for many years, and was in charge of the team writing course materials on Combinatorics. He has taught mathematics at several Oxford colleges and was Gresham Professor of Geometry, giving regular lectures to the general public. He is currently President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics. He is a well-established author and has written or edited over 40 books, including Combinatorics: Ancient and Modern (OUP, 2013), co-authored with John J. Watkins. His textbook, Introduction to Graph Theory (prentice Hall, 2010), is in its 5th edition.

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