Proofs and Confirmations

The Story of the Alternating-Sign Matrix Conjecture

Ranked #73 in Matrices

This introduction to recent developments in algebraic combinatorics illustrates how research in mathematics actually progresses. The author recounts the dramatic search for and discovery of a proof of a counting formula conjectured in the late 1970s: the number of n x n alternating sign matrices, objects that generalize permutation matrices. While it was apparent that the conjecture must be true, the proof was elusive. As a result, researchers became drawn to this problem and made connections to aspects of the invariant theory of Jacobi, Sylvester, Cayley, MacMahon, Schur, and Young; to... more

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