Algebraic combinatorics

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The Fano matroid, derived from the Fano plane. Matroids are one of many areas studied in algebraic combinatorics.

Algebraic combinatorics is an area of mathematics that employs methods of abstract algebra, notably group theory and representation theory, in various combinatorial contexts and, conversely, applies combinatorial techniques to problems in algebra.

Through the early or mid-1990s, typical combinatorial objects of interest in algebraic combinatorics either admitted a lot of symmetries (association schemes, strongly regular graphs, posets with a group action) or possessed a rich algebraic structure, frequently of representation theoretic origin (symmetric functions, Young tableaux). This period is reflected in the area 05E, Algebraic combinatorics, of the AMS Mathematics Subject Classification, introduced in 1991.

However, within the last decade or so, algebraic combinatorics came to be seen more expansively as an area of mathematics where the interaction of combinatorial and algebraic methods is particularly strong and significant. Thus the combinatorial topics may be enumerative in nature or involve matroids, polytopes, partially ordered sets, or finite geometries. On the algebraic side, besides group and representation theory, lattice theory and commutative algebra are common. One of the fastest developing subfields within algebraic combinatorics is combinatorial commutative algebra. Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics, published by Springer-Verlag, is an international journal intended as a forum for papers in the field.

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