# Set systems with union and intersection constraints

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1 Set systems with union and intersection constraints Dhruv Mubayi Reshma Ramadurai October 15, 2008 Abstract Let 2 d k be fixed and n be sufficiently large. Suppose that G is a collection of k-element subsets of an n-element set, and G >. Then G contains d sets with union of size at most 2k and empty intersection. This extends the Erdős-Ko-Rado theorem and verifies a conjecture of the first author for large n. 1 Introduction A d-cluster of k-element sets (henceforth k-sets) is a collection of d sets with union of size at most 2k and empty intersection. The seminal Erdős-Ko-Rado theorem [3] states that the maximum size of a family of k-sets of [n] = {1,..., n} which contains no 2-cluster is (note that a 2-cluster comprises two disjoint sets). Katona asked the corresponding question when d = 3. Frankl and Füredi [4] showed that the answer is again as long as n is sufficiently large, and conjectured that this holds for all n 3k/2. The first author [8] recently proved their conjecture, and generalized it still further by introducing the concept of a d-cluster (the word d-cluster to describe this particular set of configurations is due to Chen, Liu and Wang [1]). A star is a collection of sets that all contain a fixed element. Conjecture 1. ([8]) Let 2 d k and n kd/(d 1). Suppose that G is a collection of k-sets of [n] containing no d-cluster. Then G. Moreover, if d 3 and equality holds, then G is a star. The first author [7] recently proved that for fixed 2 d k we have G (1 + o(1)) as n. Regarding exact results we have already observed that Conjecture 1 holds for d = 2 and d = 3. The only other known case for Conjecture 1 is when d = k, where it follows from an old result of Chvátal [2] (this was recently observed in [1]). There has been further progress when one or more of the parameters is large. In [7], it is proved that Conjecture 1 holds for d = 4 and large n, while Keevash and the first author [6] recently proved Conjecture 1 in a different range of n, namely when k/n and n/2 k are both bounded away from zero. This includes the case n = ck where c is a fixed constant greater than 2. In this paper we provide further evidence for Conjecture 1 by proving it for all 2 d k as long as n is sufficiently large. Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA; research partially supported by NSF grant DMS Department of Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

2 Theorem 1. Fix 2 d k and let n be sufficiently large. Suppose that G is a family of k-sets of [n] that contains no d-cluster. Then G, and equality holds if and only if G is a star. Our proof of Theorem 1 is based on the stability approach pioneered by Erdős and Simonovits (see [9]). In [7], this method is used to prove the case d = 4 and here we add some new ideas (see Section 3) to extend those arguments. Recently Füredi and Ozkahya [5] have also proved Theorem 1. Their proof uses the delta system method, which is a completely different approach. 2 Preliminaries Suppose G is a collection of subsets of [n] and x [n]. The degree d G (x) is the number of sets of G that contain x. The sets A [n] {x} with A {x} G fall into two families: L x (G) consists of those A for which there is some y x for which A {y} is also in G; S x (G) consists of those A for which A {y} G implies that y = x. Note that d G (x) = L x (G) + S x (G). We need the following lemma proved in [7] (see also [6]). We will present the short proof for completeness. Lemma 1. Suppose n > k d 2, G is a collection of k-sets of [n] and x [n]. If L x (G) contains a (d 1)-cluster then G contains a d-cluster. Proof. Suppose that L x (G) contains the (d 1)-cluster A 1,, A d 1. There exists y x such that B d = A 1 {y} G. Let B i = A i {x} for i [d 1]. Since A 1,..., A d 1 forms a (d 1)-cluster, d 1 i=1 A i =, and so d 1 i=1 B i = {x}. As x B d, we conclude that d i=1 B i =. Also, d i=1 B i d 1 i=1 A i + {x, y} 2(k 1) + 2 = 2k. Consequently, B 1,, B d is a d-cluster in G. The other crucial tool is the following stability result proved in [7]. Theorem 2. (Stability) Fix 2 d k. For every ɛ > 0, there exists δ > 0 and n 0 such that the following holds for all n > n 0 : Suppose that G is a collection of k-sets of [n] containing no d-cluster. If G (1 δ), then there exists an x [n] such that the number of k-sets omitting x is at most ɛ ( ) ( k 1. In particular, this implies that G 2 for sufficiently large n. 3 A bound for bipartite families In order to prove the main result in the next section, we need some estimates on various subfamilies with a certain bipartite structure. The crucial lemma below provides this. Although we need it only for p 3, we will prove it for p 1 in order to facilitate an induction argument. This was pointed out to us by a referee. Lemma 2. Fix 2 d k, 1 p k, and k < b n/2 with n sufficiently large. Suppose that [n] has partition B C, b = B, c = C and F is a collection of k-sets of [n] such that A B = p for every A F. If F contains no d-cluster, then F kb p 1 c k p. 2

3 Proof. We proceed by induction on d. First suppose that d = 2, so F is an intersecting family. Let S F. Then every set in F has a point in S B or a point in S C. Consequently, F pb p 1 c k p + (k p)b p c k p 1 if p < k and F kb k 1 if p = k. Since b c, in either case we obtain F kb p 1 c k p as desired. For the induction step, assume that d 3. Suppose for a contradiction, that F > kb p 1 c k p. Then kb p 1 c k p < F d F (x) = L x (F) + S x (F). A typical set in S x (F) has p 1 points in B and k p points in C, and is not counted by any other S y (F) with y x. Therefore S x(f) b p 1 c k p and we have L x (F) > (k 1)b p 1 c k p. First suppose that p = 1. Then we have L x(f) > (k 1)c k 1 and so there exists w B for which ( ) L w (F) > (k 1) ck 1 c 1 (k 1)c > 2. b k 2 Now Theorem 2 (applied with 2 d 1 k 1) implies that L w (F) contains a (d 1)-cluster, since we have assumed that c n/2 is sufficiently large. Lemma 1 then gives that F contains a d-cluster which is a contradiction. Now suppose that p 2. Again we find w B for which L w (F) > (k 1)b p 2 c k p. By Lemma 1, L w (F) contains no (d 1)-cluster, so by the induction hypothesis (replacing d with d 1, p with p 1, k with k 1, b with b 1, and n with n 1), we obtain the contradiction L w (F) (k 1)b p 2 c k p. 4 Proof of Theorem 1 In this section we complete the proof of Theorem 1. At one point the argument is identical to that in [7], and we refer the reader there for the details. Proof of Theorem 1. We assume that k d 3 since d = 2 follows from the Erdős-Ko- Rado Theorem. Choose n sufficiently large that all statements in the following proof requiring this hold. Suppose that G is a collection of k-sets of [n] containing no d-cluster with G =. We will show that G is a star. Since a star is a maximal family with no d-cluster, this proves the required bound on G, with the characterization of equality as well. Let G x be the collection of sets in G that omit x. By Theorem 2, there exists x [n] such that m := G x < ɛ k 1 with ɛ < (12k 2 ) k. If m = 0, then G is a star and we are done, hence we may assume that m > 0. Let G x = {E [n] : E = k 1 and E {x} G}. Claim 1. There are pairwise disjoint (k 2)-sets S 1, S 2, S 3 [n] {x} such that for each i d Gx (S i ) = {y [n] : S i {x, y} G} n k + 1 2km ). 3 )

4 Proof. See the corresponding claim in [7]. By Claim 1, for each i, Let {y [n] : S i {x, y} G} < k + 2km ). B = {y [n] : S i {x, y} G for some i}. Then B < 3k + 6km/ ). By adding points arbitrarily to B, we may assume that B = 3k + 6km/ ). Since m 1, we may suppose that there exists S G x. For each choice of a (k 2)-set S [n] {x} S one of the k-sets S {x, y} where y S must be absent from G, otherwise we obtain a d-cluster using d 1 of these sets and S. This immediately yields m ( ) ( n k 1 > 1 2 ). Consequently, 6km B = 3k + ) < 12km ) < 12kɛ( ) k 1 ) < 12kɛn < n 1. 2 Now define, for each i {0,..., k}, T i = {T G x : T B = i}. Note that T 0 T k is a partition of G x. First we show that T 0 = T 1 = T 2 =. Observe that S i B for i = 1, 2, 3. If S T 0 T 1 T 2, then there is an i for which S i S =. Choose d 2 k 2 elements y 1,..., y d 2 S B and y [n] (B {x} S). Now the d 2 sets S i {x, y j } (for all j) together with S and S i {x, y} form a d-cluster in G, which is a contradiction. Therefore, T 0 T 1 T 2 =. Since G x = k i=3 T i, we may assume that T p m/(k 2) for some 3 p k. Applying Lemma 2 with C = [n] {x} B (and b = B, c = C ; noting that k < b < (n 1)/2), we obtain Simplifying, we obtain ( m k 2 T p kb p 1 c k p < k m p 2 > Then, since m < ɛ ( ) ( k 1 < ɛn ) p 1 12km ) n k p. ( ) n 1 p 1 1 k 2 n k p k(k 2)(12k) p 1. ), we have ) ɛ ɛ p 2 > n k(k 2)(12k) p 1 ((n k)/n) (k 2)!k(k 2)(12k) p 1 > (12k2 ) k for sufficiently large n. This contradicts the choice of ɛ and completes the proof. 5 Acknowledgments The authors thank the referees for their careful reading of the paper and for pointing out an error in the original proof of Lemma 2. 4

5 References [1] W. Chen, J. Liu, L. Wang, Families of Sets with Intersecting Clusters, submitted [2] V. Chvátal, An extremal set-intersection theorem, J. London Math. Soc. 9 (1974/75), [3] P. Erdős, H. Ko, R. Rado, Intersection theorems for systems of finite sets, Quart. J. Math. Oxford Ser. 12 (1961) [4] P. Frankl, Z. Füredi, A new generalization of the Erdős-Ko-Rado theorem, Combinatorica 3 (1983), [5] Z. Füredi, L. Ozkahya, An intersection theorem with small unions, submitted [6] P. Keevash, D. Mubayi, Set systems without a simplex or a cluster, Combinatorica, to appear [7] D. Mubayi, An intersection theorem for four sets, Adv. Math. 215 (2007), no. 2, [8] D. Mubayi, Erdős-Ko-Rado for three sets, J. Combin. Theory Ser. A, 113 (2006), [9] M. Simonovits, A method for solving extremal problems in graph theory, stability problems Theory of Graphs (Proc. Colloq., Tihany, 1966) pp , Academic Press, New York. 5

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