Show Summary Details

p. 504. A combinatorial zoolocked

  • Robin Wilson


‘A combinatorial zoo’ presents a menagerie of combinatorial topics, ranging from the box (or pigeonhole) principle, the inclusion–exclusion principle, the derangement problem, and the Tower of Hanoi problem that uses combinatorics to determine how soon the world will end to Fibonacci numbers, the marriage theorem, generators and enumerators, and counting chessboards, which involves symmetry. The method used to average the numbers of colourings that remain unchanged by each symmetry in this latter problem is often called ‘Burnside’s lemma’. This concept has since been developed into a much more powerful result, which has been used to count a wide range of objects with a degree of symmetry, such as graphs and chemical molecules.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.