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New & Forthcoming Titles | Notes on Introductory Combinatorics

Notes on Introductory Combinatorics

Pólya, George, Tarjan, Robert E., Woods, Donald R.

2010, XII, 192 p. 125 illus.

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ISBN 978-0-8176-4952-4

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  • An affordable new softcover edition of a classic text  
  • Offers a comprehensive introductory overview of combinatorics  
  • Includes homework exercises and examinations, making the book useful in courses  
  • Results serve as a basis for applications in computer science  

Developed from the authors’ introductory combinatorics course, this book focuses on a branch of mathematics which plays a crucial role in computer science. Combinatorial methods provide many analytical tools used for determining the expected performance of computer algorithms. Elementary subjects such as combinations and permutations, and mathematical tools such as generating functions and Pólya’s Theory of Counting, are covered, as are analyses of specific problems such as Ramsey Theory, matchings, and Hamiltonian and Eulerian paths.


This introduction will provide students with a solid foundation in the subject.




"This is a delightful little paperback which presents a day-by-day transcription of a course taught jointly by Pólya and Tarjan at Stanford University. Woods, the teaching assistant for the class, did a very good job of merging class notes into an interesting mini-textbook; he also included the exercises, homework, and tests assigned in the class (a very helpful addition for other instructors in the field). The notes are very well illustrated throughout and Woods and the Birkhäuser publishers produced a very pleasant text.


One can count on [Pólya and Tarjan] for new insights and a fresh outlook. Both instructors taught by presenting a succession of examples rather than by presenting a body of theory…[The book] is very well suited as supplementary material for any introductory class on combinatorics; as such, it is very highly recommended. Finally, for all of us who like the topic and delight in observing skilled professionals at work, this book is entertaining and, yes, instructive, reading."

—Mathematical Reviews (Review of the original hardcover edition)


"The mathematical community welcomes this book as a final contribution to honour the teacher G. Pólya."

—Zentralblatt MATH (Review of the original hardcover edition)

Content Level » Graduate

Keywords » Eulerian paths - Hamiltonian paths - Pólya's theory of counting - Ramsey theory - Stirling numbers - combinations - generating functions - permutations

Related subjects » Birkhäuser Computer Science - Birkhäuser Mathematics

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