# Counting Lyndon Factors

### Abstract

In this paper, we determine the maximum number of distinct Lyndon factors that a word of length $n$ can contain. We also derive formulas for the expected total number of Lyndon factors in a word of length $n$ on an alphabet of size $\sigma$, as well as the expected number of distinct Lyndon factors in such a word. The minimum number of distinct Lyndon factors in a word of length $n$ is $1$ and the minimum total number is $n$, with both bounds being achieved by $x^n$ where $x$ is a letter. A more interesting question to ask is *what is the minimum number of distinct Lyndon factors in a Lyndon word of length $n$?* In this direction, it is known (Saari, 2014) that a lower bound for the number of distinct Lyndon factors in a Lyndon word of length $n$ is $\lceil\log_{\phi}(n) + 1\rceil$, where $\phi$ denotes the *golden ratio* $(1 + \sqrt{5})/2$. Moreover, this lower bound is sharp when $n$ is a *Fibonacci number* and is attained by the so-called finite *Fibonacci Lyndon words*, which are precisely the Lyndon factors of the well-known *infinite Fibonacci word* $\boldsymbol{f}$ (a special example of an *infinite Sturmian word*). Saari (2014) conjectured that if $w$ is Lyndon word of length $n$, $n\ne 6$, containing the least number of distinct Lyndon factors over all Lyndon words of the same length, then $w$ is a *Christoffel word* (i.e., a Lyndon factor of an infinite Sturmian word). We give a counterexample to this conjecture. Furthermore, we generalise Saari's result on the number of distinct Lyndon factors of a Fibonacci Lyndon word by determining the number of distinct Lyndon factors of a given Christoffel word. We end with two open problems.