Generalized Catalan Numbers from Hypergraphs

  • Paul E. Gunnells


The Catalan numbers $C_{n} \in \{1,1,2,5,14,42,\dots \}$ form one of the most venerable sequences in combinatorics. They have many combinatorial interpretations, from counting bracketings of products in non-associative algebra to counting rooted plane trees and noncrossing set partitions. They also arise in the GUE matrix model as the leading coefficient of certain polynomials, a connection closely related to the plane trees and noncrossing set partitions interpretations. In this paper we define a generalization of the Catalan numbers. In fact we actually define an infinite collection of generalizations $C_{n}^{(m)}$, $m\geq 1$, with $C_{n}^{(1)}$ equal to the usual Catalans $C_{n}$; the sequence $C_{n}^{(m)}$ comes from studying certain matrix models attached to hypergraphs. We also give some combinatorial interpretations of these numbers.

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