Isosceles Sets

  • Yury J. Ionin


In 1946, Paul Erdős posed a problem of determining the largest possible cardinality of an isosceles set, i.e., a set of points in plane or in space, any three of which form an isosceles triangle. Such a question can be asked for any metric space, and an upper bound ${n+2\choose 2}$ for the Euclidean space ${\Bbb E}^{n}$ was found by Blokhuis. This upper bound is known to be sharp for $n=1$, 2, 6, and 8. We will consider Erdős' question for the binary Hamming space $H_{n}$ and obtain the following upper bounds on the cardinality of an isosceles subset $S$ of $H_{n}$: if there are at most two distinct nonzero distances between points of $S$, then $|S|\leq{n+1\choose 2}+1$; if, furthermore, $n\geq 4$, $n\ne 6$, and, as a set of vertices of the $n$-cube, $S$ is contained in a hyperplane, then $|S|\leq{n\choose 2}$; if there are more than two distinct nonzero distances between points of $S$, then $|S|\leq{n\choose 2}+1$. The first bound is sharp if and only if $n=2$ or $n=5$; the other two bounds are sharp for all relevant values of $n$, except the third bound for $n=6$, when the sharp upper bound is 12. We also give the exact answer to the Erdős problem for ${\Bbb E}^{n}$ with $n\leq 7$ and describe all isosceles sets of the largest cardinality in these dimensions.

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