A New Method to Construct Lower Bounds for Van der Waerden Numbers

  • P. R. Herwig
  • M.J.H. Heule
  • P. M. van Lambalgen
  • H. van Maaren


We present the Cyclic Zipper Method, a procedure to construct lower bounds for Van der Waerden numbers. Using this method we improved seven lower bounds. For natural numbers $r$, $k$ and $n$ a Van der Waerden certificate $W(r,k,n)$ is a partition of $\{1, \ldots, n\}$ into $r$ subsets, such that none of them contains an arithmetic progression of length $k$ (or larger). Van der Waerden showed that given $r$ and $k$, a smallest $n$ exists - the Van der Waerden number $W(r,k)$ - for which no certificate $W(r,k,n)$ exists. In this paper we investigate Van der Waerden certificates which have certain symmetrical and repetitive properties. Surprisingly, it shows that many Van der Waerden certificates, which must avoid repetitions in terms of arithmetic progressions, reveal strong regularities with respect to several other criteria. The Cyclic Zipper Method exploits these regularities. To illustrate these regularities, two techniques are introduced to visualize certificates.

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