Avoiding vincular patterns on alternating words

Alice L.L. Gao, Sergey Kitaev, Philip B. Zhang

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A word $w=w_1w_2\cdots w_n$ is alternating if either $w_1<w_2>w_3<w_4>\cdots$ (when the word is up-down) or $w_1>w_2<w_3>w_4<\cdots$ (when the word is down-up). The study of alternating words avoiding classical permutation patterns was initiated by the authors in~\cite{GKZ}, where, in particular, it was shown that 123-avoiding up-down words of even length are counted by the Narayana numbers.However, not much was understood on the structure of 123-avoiding up-down words. In this paper, we fill in this gap by introducing the notion of a cut-pair that allows us to subdivide the set of words in question into equivalence classes. We provide a combinatorial argument to show that the number of equivalence classes is given by the Catalan numbers, which induces an alternative (combinatorial) proof of the corresponding result in~\cite{GKZ}.Further, we extend the enumerative results in~\cite{GKZ} to the case of alternating words avoiding a vincular pattern of length 3. We show that it is sufficient to enumerate up-down words of even length avoiding the consecutive pattern $\underline{132}$ and up-down words of odd length avoiding the consecutive pattern $\underline{312}$ to answer all of our enumerative questions. The former of the two key cases is enumerated by the Stirling numbers of the second kind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2079-2093
Number of pages25
JournalDiscrete Mathematics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Dyck path
  • alternating word
  • up-down word
  • pattern-avoidance
  • Narayana number
  • Catalan number
  • Stirling number of the second kind


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