Rutgers Discrete Mathematics Seminar

Title: Inclusion Matrices and the MDS Conjecture

Speaker: Ameera Chowdhury, Rutgers University

Date: Monday, November 23, 2015 2:00 pm

Location: Hill Center, Room 425, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


Let F_q be a finite field of order q with characteristic p. An arc is an ordered family of vectors in (F_q)^k in which every subfamily of size k is a basis of (F_q)^k. The MDS conjecture, which was posed by Segre in 1955, states that if k <= q, then an arc in (F_q)^k has size at most q+1, unless q is even and k=3 or k=q-1, in which case it has size at most q+2.

We propose a conjecture which would imply that the MDS conjecture is true for almost all values of k when q is odd. We prove our conjecture in two cases and thus give simpler proofs of the MDS conjecture when k <= p, and if q is not prime, for k <= 2p-2. To accomplish this, given an arc G of (F_q)^k and a nonnegative integer n, we construct a matrix M_G^{uparrow n}, which is related to an inclusion matrix, a well-studied object in combinatorics. Our main results relate algebraic properties of the matrix M_G^{uparrow n} to properties of the arc G and may provide new tools in the computational classification of large arcs.