Cutting Planes for Union-Closed Families

  • Frankl’s (union-closed sets) conjecture states that for any nonempty finite union-closed (UC) family of distinct sets there exists an element in at least half of the sets. Poonen’s Theorem characterizes the existence of weights which determine whether a given UC family ensures Frankl’s conjecture holds for all UC families which contain it. The weight systems are nontrivial to identify for a given UC family, and methods to determine such weight systems have led to several other open questions and conjectures regarding structures in UC families. We design a cutting-plane method that computes the explicit weights which imply the existence conditions of Poonen’s Theorem using computational integer programming coupled with redundant verification routines that ensure correctness. We find over one hundred previously unknown families of sets which ensure Frankl’s conjecture holds for all families that contain any of them. This improves significantly on all previous results of the kind. Our framework allows us to answer several open questions and conjectures regarding structural properties of UC families, including proving the 3-sets conjecture of Morris from 2006 which characterizes the minimum number of 3-sets that ensure Frankl’s conjecture holds for all families that contain them. Furthermore, our method provides a general algorithmic road-map for improving other known results and uncovering structures in UC families.

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Author:Jonad Pulaj
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
MSC-Classification:05-XX COMBINATORICS (For finite fields, see 11Txx)
Granting Institution:Technische Universität Berlin
Advisor:Martin Grötschel, Ralf Borndörfer
Year of first publication:2017