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      A new proof of the density Hales-Jewett theorem

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          Abstract

          The Hales-Jewett theorem asserts that for every r and every k there exists n such that every r-colouring of the n-dimensional grid {1,...,k}^n contains a combinatorial line. This result is a generalization of van der Waerden's theorem, and it is one of the fundamental results of Ramsey theory. The theorem of van der Waerden has a famous density version, conjectured by Erdos and Turan in 1936, proved by Szemeredi in 1975, and given a different proof by Furstenberg in 1977. The Hales-Jewett theorem has a density version as well, proved by Furstenberg and Katznelson in 1991 by means of a significant extension of the ergodic techniques that had been pioneered by Furstenberg in his proof of Szemeredi's theorem. In this paper, we give the first elementary proof of the theorem of Furstenberg and Katznelson, and the first to provide a quantitative bound on how large n needs to be. In particular, we show that a subset of {1,2,3}^n of density delta contains a combinatorial line if n is at least a tower of 2's of height O(1/delta^3). Our proof is reasonably simple: indeed, it gives what is arguably the simplest known proof of Szemeredi's theorem.

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          Journal
          2009-10-20
          2010-02-16
          Article
          0910.3926

          http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

          Custom metadata
          05D10
          See also http://michaelnielsen.org/polymath1/index.php?title=Polymath1
          math.CO

          Combinatorics

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