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# Journal of Combinatorics

## Volume 9 (2018)

### Number 1

### Teaching dimension, VC dimension, and critical sets in Latin squares

Pages: 9 – 20

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4310/JOC.2018.v9.n1.a2

#### Authors

#### Abstract

A critical set in an $n \times n$ Latin square is a minimal set of entries that uniquely identifies it among all Latin squares of the same size. It is conjectured by Nelder in 1979, and later independently by Mahmoodian, and Bate and van Rees that the size of the smallest critical set is $\lfloor n^2 / 4 \rfloor$. We prove a lower-bound of $n^2 / 10^4$ for sufficiently large $n$, and thus confirm the quadratic order predicted by the conjecture. This improves a recent lower-bound of $\Omega (n^{3/2})$ due to Cavenagh and Ramadurai. From the point of view of computational learning theory, the size of the smallest critical set corresponds to the minimum teaching dimension of the set of Latin squares. We study two related notions of dimension from learning theory.We prove a lower-bound of $n^2 - (e+o(1)) n^{5/3}$ for both of the VC-dimension and the recursive teaching dimension.

#### Keywords

Latin square, critical set, VC-dimension, teaching dimension, recursive teaching dimension, defining set, forcing set

The first author was supported by an NSERC grant.

Received 2 June 2016

Published 5 January 2018