The Many Formulae for the Number of Latin Rectangles

  • Douglas S. Stones


A $k \times n$ Latin rectangle $L$ is a $k \times n$ array, with symbols from a set of cardinality $n$, such that each row and each column contains only distinct symbols. If $k=n$ then $L$ is a Latin square. Let $L_{k,n}$ be the number of $k \times n$ Latin rectangles. We survey (a) the many combinatorial objects equivalent to Latin squares, (b) the known bounds on $L_{k,n}$ and approximations for $L_n$, (c) congruences satisfied by $L_{k,n}$ and (d) the many published formulae for $L_{k,n}$ and related numbers. We also describe in detail the method of Sade in finding $L_{7,7}$, an important milestone in the enumeration of Latin squares, but which was privately published in French. Doyle's formula for $L_{k,n}$ is given in a closed form and is used to compute previously unpublished values of $L_{4,n}$, $L_{5,n}$ and $L_{6,n}$. We reproduce the three formulae for $L_{k,n}$ by Fu that were published in Chinese. We give a formula for $L_{k,n}$ that contains, as special cases, formulae of (a) Fu, (b) Shao and Wei and (c) McKay and Wanless. We also introduce a new equation for $L_{k,n}$ whose complexity lies in computing subgraphs of the rook's graph.

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