Lectures on Integer Partitions

Thu, Jun 1, 2000
Herbert S. Wilf
University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
PIMS Distinguished Chair Lectures

What I’d like to do in these lectures is to give, first, a review of the classical theory of integer partitions, and then to discuss some more recent developments. The latter will revolve around a chain of six papers, published since 1980, by Garsia-Milne, Jeff Remmel, Basil Gordon, Kathy O’Hara, and myself. In these papers what emerges is a unified and automated method for dealing with a large class of partition identities.

By a partition identity I will mean a theorem of the form “there are the same number of partitions of n such that . . . as there are such that . . ..” A great deal of human ingenuity has been expended on finding bijective and analytical proofs of such identities over the years, but, as with some other parts of mathematics, computers can now produce these bijections by themselves. What’s more, it seems that what the computers discover are the very same bijections that we humans had so proudly been discovering for all of those years.

These lectures are intended to be accessible to graduate students in mathematics and computer science.