Course Descriptions

16:642:582 - Combinatorics I

Jeffry Kahn


A Course in Combinatorics by van Lint and Wilson


There are no formal prerequisites, but the course assumes a level of mathematical maturity consistent with having had good courses in linear algebra (such as 640:350) and real analysis (such as 640:411) at the undergraduate level. It will help to have seen at least a little prior combinatorics, and (very) rudimentary probability will also occasionally be useful. See me if in doubt.


This is the first part of a two-semester course surveying basic topics in combinatorics. 

Topics for the full year should (at least) include most of:

Enumeration (basics, generating functions, recurrence relations, inclusion-exclusion, asymptotics)

Matching theory, polyhedral and fractional issues

Partially ordered sets and lattices, Mobius functions

Theory of finite sets, hypergraphs, combinatorial discrepancy, Ramsey theory, correlation inequalities

Probabilistic methods

Algebraic and Fourier methods

Entropy methods


 Schedule of Sections:

Fall 2017

Swastik Kopparty




Some algebra (especially linear algebra), some discrete probability, and mathematical maturity.


This will be a basic introduction to combinatorics at the graduate level.

We will cover topics such as enumeration, symmetry, partial orders, set systems, Ramsey theory, discrepancy, additive combinatorics and quasirandomness. There will be emphasis on general techniques, including probabilistic methods, linear-algebra methods, analytic methods, topological methods and geometric methods.