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# Category Archives: combinatorics

## The Möbius function proof, part 2 (the subset parity lemma)

Continuing from my previous post, we are in the middle of proving that satisfies the same equation as , that is, and that therefore for all , that is, is the sum of all the th primitive roots of unity. … Continue reading

## The birthday candle problem: solution

Recall the birthday candle problem I wrote about in a previous post: A birthday cake has lit candles. At each step you pick a number uniformly at random and blow out candles. If any candles remain lit, the process repeats … Continue reading

Posted in combinatorics, probability, solutions
Tagged birthday, candles, expectation, problem
5 Comments

## The birthday candle problem

After a 1.5-month epic journey1, I am finally settling into my new position at Hendrix College. Here’s a fun problem I just heard from my new colleage Mark Goadrich: A birthday cake has lit candles. At each step you pick … Continue reading

Posted in challenges, combinatorics, probability
Tagged birthday, candles, expectation, problem
5 Comments

## PIE day

[This is part six in an ongoing series; previous posts can be found here: Differences of powers of consecutive integers, Differences of powers of consecutive integers, part II, Combinatorial proofs, Making our equation count, How to explain the principle of … Continue reading

## The Steinhaus-Johnson-Trotter algorithm

In a previous post I posed the question: is there a way to list the permutations of in such a way that any two adjacent permutations are related by just a single swap of adjacent numbers? (Just for fun, let’s … Continue reading

Posted in combinatorics, pattern, solutions
Tagged algorithm, change, permutations, ringing, SJT, swap
9 Comments

## Permuting permutations

As you probably know, there are ( factorial) different ways to put the numbers from through (or any set of distinct objects) in a list. For example, here are the different lists containing the numbers through : Each such list … Continue reading