April 03, 2008, 14:15, Room GC B3 424 (click here for the map)

Optimizing diversity in industrial production

We consider the problem of minimizing the size of a family of sets G such that every subset of 1,...,n can be written as a disjoint union of at most k members of G, where k and n are given numbers. This problem originates in a real-world application aiming at the diversity of industrial production. At the same time, the minimum of G so that every subset of 1,...,n is the union of two sets in G has been asked by Erdos and studied recently by Furedi and Katona. A simple construction providing a feasible solution is conjectured to be optimal for this problem for all values of n and k and regardless of the disjointness requirement; we prove this conjecture in special cases including all (n,k) for which n <= 3k holds, and some individual values of n and k.