Counting Nondecreasing Integer Sequences that Lie Below a Barrier

  • Robin Pemantle
  • Herbert S. Wilf


Given a barrier $0 \leq b_0 \leq b_1 \leq \cdots$, let $f(n)$ be the number of nondecreasing integer sequences $0 \leq a_0 \leq a_1 \leq \cdots \leq a_n$ for which $a_j \leq b_j$ for all $0 \leq j \leq n$. Known formulæ for $f(n)$ include an $n \times n$ determinant whose entries are binomial coefficients (Kreweras, 1965) and, in the special case of $b_j = rj+s$, a short explicit formula (Proctor, 1988, p.320). A relatively easy bivariate recursion, decomposing all sequences according to $n$ and $a_n$, leads to a bivariate generating function, then a univariate generating function, then a linear recursion for $\{ f(n) \}$. Moreover, the coefficients of the bivariate generating function have a probabilistic interpretation, leading to an analytic inequality which is an identity for certain values of its argument.

Article Number