Latin rectangle

From Encyclopedia of Mathematics
Revision as of 08:13, 3 December 2016 by Richard Pinch (talk | contribs) (→‎Comments: link)
Jump to: navigation, search

A rectangular matrix of dimension , , each row of which is a permutation (without repetitions) of the elements of a set consisting of elements, and in the columns each element occurs at most once. For a Latin rectangle is a Latin square of order . Usually , and one says that the Latin rectangle is constructed on the set .

A Latin rectangle exists for any natural numbers and , . An example of a Latin rectangle is a matrix with first row and where any subsequent row is obtained from the previous row by a cyclic shift by one place. A Latin rectangle of dimension , , can always be completed to a Latin square of order in such a way that the first rows of the Latin square are the same as those of the Latin rectangle.

For the number of Latin rectangles of dimension one has the following lower bound:

A Latin rectangle is said to be normalized if its first row is . The number of normalized Latin rectangles is connected with by the relation

The calculation of for and 3 is connected with the following classical combinatorial problems: the problem of the number of derangements (see also Inversion (in combinatorics)) and the married-couples problem. Thus, the number of derangements equals , and the number of arrangements in the married-couples problem is the number of Latin rectangles of dimension with first two rows

For one has the formulas

The number can be expressed in terms of and :

where , . One also has the following asymptotic expansion:

where , being the Hermite polynomials. It is also known that

The problem of enumerating Latin rectangles having more than three rows is unsolved (1982). For , where such that , the following asymptotic behaviour holds:

Certain concepts and theorems connected with Latin squares can be extended to Latin rectangles. Thus, two Latin rectangles and of dimension are said to be orthogonal if all pairs of the form are distinct. A set of Latin rectangles in which any two of them are orthogonal has at most Latin rectangles.

The term "Latin rectangle" is often used in a more general sense: A generalized Latin rectangle of dimension , constructed on a set consisting of elements, is a matrix of dimension with elements from that occur at most once in each row and column. A (generalized) Latin rectangle of dimension constructed on symbols can be extended to a Latin square of order if and only if each symbol occurs at least times in the Latin rectangle.

See also the references to Latin square.


[1] J. Riordan, "An introduction to combinatorial analysis" , Wiley (1967)


The married-couples problem (or problème des ménages) asks for the number of ways of seating married couples at a circular table with men and women alternating and so that no wife sits next to her husband. The number of solutions is , where is called the -th ménage number. The number is equal to the number of permutations of such that for all and .

How to Cite This Entry:
Latin rectangle. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by V.M. Mikheev (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article