Discrete Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science |

- 1 Department of Mathematics and Statistics [Perth]
- 2 Reykjavík University
- 3 The Mathematics Institute, Reyjavik University

In 1961, Erdos asked whether or not there exist words of arbitrary length over a fixed finite alphabet that avoid patterns of the form XX' where X' is a permutation of X (called abelian squares). This problem has since been solved in the affirmative in a series of papers from 1968 to 1992. Much less is known in the case of abelian k-th powers, i.e., words of the form X1X2 ... X-k where X-i is a permutation of X-1 for 2 <= i <= k. In this paper, we consider crucial words for abelian k-th powers, i. e., finite words that avoid abelian k-th powers, but which cannot be extended to the right by any letter of their own alphabets without creating an abelian k-th power. More specifically, we consider the problem of determining the minimal length of a crucial word avoiding abelian k-th powers. This problem has already been solved for abelian squares by Evdokimov and Kitaev (2004), who showed that a minimal crucial word over an n-letter alphabet A(n) = \1, 2, ..., n\ avoiding abelian squares has length 4n - 7 for n >= 3. Extending this result, we prove that a minimal crucial word over A(n) avoiding abelian cubes has length 9n - 13 for n >= 5, and it has length 2, 5, 11, and 20 for n = 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Moreover, for n >= 4 and k >= 2, we give a construction of length k(2) (n - 1) - k - 1 of a crucial word over A(n) avoiding abelian k-th powers. This construction gives the minimal length for k = 2 and k = 3. For k >= 4 and n >= 5, we provide a lower bound for the length of crucial words over A(n) avoiding abelian k-th powers.

Source: HAL:hal-00990452v1

Volume: Vol. 12 no. 5

Section: Combinatorics

Published on: January 1, 2010

Imported on: March 26, 2015

Keywords: pattern avoidance,abelian square-free word,abelian cube-free word,abelian power,crucial word,Zimin word,[INFO.INFO-DM] Computer Science [cs]/Discrete Mathematics [cs.DM]

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