Abstract:
We present a simple formula for the expected number of inversions in a permutation of size $n$ obtained by applying $t$ random (not necessarily adjacent) transpositions to the identity permutation. More general, for any finite irreducible Coxeter group belonging to one of the infinite families (type A, B, D, and I), an exact expression is obtained for the expected length of a product of $t$ random reflections.

Abstract:
For any configuration of pebbles on the nodes of a graph, a pebbling move replaces two pebbles on one node by one pebble on an adjacent node. A cover pebbling is a move sequence ending with no empty nodes. The number of pebbles needed for a cover pebbling starting with all pebbles on one node is trivial to compute and it was conjectured that the maximum of these simple cover pebbling numbers is indeed the general cover pebbling number of the graph. That is, for any configuration of this size, there exists a cover pebbling. In this note, we prove a generalization of the conjecture. All previously published results about cover pebbling numbers for special graphs (trees, hypercubes etcetera) are direct consequences of this theorem. We also prove that the cover pebbling number of a product of two graphs equals the product of the cover pebbling numbers of the graphs.

Abstract:
Let the sign of a skew standard Young tableau be the sign of the permutation you get by reading it row by row from left to right, like a book. We examine how the sign property is transferred by the skew Robinson-Schensted correspondence invented by Sagan and Stanley. The result is a remarkably simple generalization of the ordinary non-skew formula. The sum of the signs of all standard tableaux on a given skew shape is the sign-imbalance of that shape. We generalize previous results on the sign-imbalance of ordinary partition shapes to skew ones.

Abstract:
The following special case of a conjecture by Loehr and Warrington was proved recently by Ekhad, Vatter, and Zeilberger: There are 10^n zero-sum words of length 5n in the alphabet {+3,-2} such that no zero-sum consecutive subword that starts with +3 may be followed immediately by -2. We give a simple bijective proof of the conjecture in its original and more general setting. To do this we reformulate the problem in terms of cylindrical lattice paths.

Abstract:
We characterise the permutations pi such that the elements in the closed lower Bruhat interval [id,pi] of the symmetric group correspond to non-taking rook configurations on a skew Ferrers board. It turns out that these are exactly the permutations pi such that [id,pi] corresponds to a flag manifold defined by inclusions, studied by Gasharov and Reiner. Our characterisation connects the Poincare polynomials (rank-generating function) of Bruhat intervals with q-rook polynomials, and we are able to compute the Poincare polynomial of some particularly interesting intervals in the finite Weyl groups A_n and B_n. The expressions involve q-Stirling numbers of the second kind. As a by-product of our method, we present a new Stirling number identity connected to both Bruhat intervals and the poly-Bernoulli numbers defined by Kaneko.

Abstract:
In the "secretary problem", well-known in the theory of optimal stopping, an employer is about to interview a maximum of N secretaries about which she has no prior information. Chow et al. proved that with an optimal strategy the expected rank of the chosen secretary tends to approximately 3.87. We study a two-sided game-theoretic version of this optimal stopping problem, where men search for a woman to marry at the same time as women search for a man to marry. We find that in the unique subgame perfect equilibrium, the expected rank grows as the square root of N and that, surprisingly, the leading coefficient is exactly 1. We also discuss some possible variations.

Abstract:
We answer some questions concerning the so called sigma-game of Sutner. It is played on a graph where each vertex has a lamp, the light of which is toggled by pressing any vertex with an edge directed to the lamp. For example, we show that every configuration of lamps can be lit if and only if the number of complete matchings in the graph is odd. In the special case of an orthogonal grid one gets a criterion for whether the number of monomer-dimer tilings of an m times n grid is odd or even.

Abstract:
In the evolution of a genome, the gene sequence is sometimes rearranged, for example by transposition of two adjacent gene blocks. In biocombinatorics, one tries to reconstruct these rearrangement incidents from the resulting permutation. It seems that the algorithms used are too effective and find a shorter path than the real one. For the simplified case of adjacent transpositions, we give expressions for the expected number of inversions after t random moves. This average can be much smaller than t, a fact that has largely been neglected so far.

Abstract:
For a random graph on n vertices where the edges appear with individual rates, we give exact formulas for the expected time at which the number of components has gone down to k and the expected length of the corresponding minimal spanning forest. For a random bipartite graph we give a formula for the expected time at which a k-assignment appears. This result has bearing upon the random assignment problem.

Abstract:
We consider stable three-dimensional matchings of three categories of agents, such as women, men and dogs. This was suggested long ago by Knuth (1976), but very little seems to have been published on this problem. Based on computer experiments, we present a couple of conjectures as well as a few counter-examples to other natural but discarded conjectures. In particular, a circular 3D matching is one where women only care about the man, men only care about the dog, and dogs only care about the woman they are matched with. We conjecture that a stable outcome always exists for any circular 3D matching market, and we prove it for markets with at most four agents of each category.