Extremal problems and designs on finite sets.
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This thesis considers three related structures on finite sets and outstanding conjectures on two of them. Several new problems and conjectures are stated.A union-closed collection of sets is a collection of sets which contains the union of each pair of sets in the collection. A completely separating system of sets is a collection of sets in which for each pair of elements of the universal set, there exists a set in the collection which contains the first element but not the second, and another set which contains the second element but not the first. An antichain (Sperner Family) is a collection of distinct sets in which no set is a subset of another set in the collection. The size of an antichain is the number of sets in the collection. The volume of an antichain is the sum of the cardinalities of the sets in the collection. A flat antichain is an antichain in which the difference in cardinality between any two sets in the antichain is at most one.The two outstanding conjectures considered are:The union-closed sets conjecture - In any union-closed collection of non-empty sets there is an element of the universal set in at least half of the sets in the collection;The flat antichain conjecture - Given an antichain with size s and volume V, there is a flat antichain with the same size and volume.Union-closed collections are considered in two ways. Improvements are made to the previously known bounds concerning the minimum size of a counterexample to the union-closed sets conjecture. Results are derived on the minimum size of a union-closed collection generated by a given number of k-sets. An ordering on sets is described, called order R and it is conjectured that choosing a collection of m k-sets in order R will always minimise the size of the union-closed collection generated by m k-sets.Several variants on completely separating systems of sets are considered. A determination is made of the minimum size of such collections, subject to various constraints on the collections. In particular, for each n and k, exact values or bounds are determined for the minimum size of completely separating systems on a n-set in which each set has cardinality k.Antichains are considered in their relationship to completely separating systems and the flat antichain conjecture is shown to be true in certain cases.
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