Discrete mathematics forms the mathematical foundation of computer and information science. It is also a fascinating subject in itself.
Learners will become familiar with a broad range of mathematical objects like sets, functions, relations, graphs, that are omnipresent in computer science. Perhaps more importantly, they will reach a certain level of mathematical maturity – being able to understand formal statements and their proofs; coming up with rigorous proofs themselves; and coming up with interesting results.
This course attempts to be rigorous without being overly formal. This means, for every concept we introduce we will show at least one interesting and non-trivial result and give a full proof. However, we will do so without too much formal notation, employing examples and figures whenever possible.
The main topics of this course are (1) sets, functions, relations, (2) enumerative combinatorics, (3) graph theory, (4) network flow and matchings. It does not cover modular arithmetic, algebra, and logic, since these topics have a slightly different flavor and because there are already several courses on Coursera specifically on these topics.
Introduction - Basic Objects in Discrete Mathematics
This module gives the learner a first impression of what discrete mathematics is about, and in which ways its "flavor" differs from other fields of mathematics. It introduces basic objects like sets, relations, functions, which form the foundation of discrete mathematics.
Even without knowing, the learner has seen some orderings in the past. Numbers are ordered by <=. Integers can be partially ordered by the "divisible by" relation. In genealogy, people are ordered by the "A is an ancestor of B" relation. This module formally introduces partial orders and proves some fundamental and non-trivial facts about them.
A big part of discrete mathematics is about counting things. A classic example asks how many different words can be obtained by re-ordering the letters in the word Mississippi. Counting problems of this flavor abound in discrete mathematics discrete probability and also in the analysis of algorithms.
The Binomial Coefficient
The binomial coefficient (n choose k) counts the number of ways to select k elements from a set of size n. It appears all the time in enumerative combinatorics. A good understanding of (n choose k) is also extremely helpful for analysis of algorithms.
Asymptotics and the O-Notation
Introduction to Graph Theory
Graphs are arguably the most important object in discrete mathematics. A huge number of problems from computer science and combinatorics can be modelled in the language of graphs. This module introduces the basic notions of graph theory - graphs, cycles, paths, degree, isomorphism.
Connectivity, Trees, Cycles
We continue with graph theory basics. In this module, we introduce trees, an important class of graphs, and several equivalent characterizations of trees. Finally, we present an efficient algorithm for detecting whether two trees are isomorphic.
Eulerian and Hamiltonian Cycles
Starting with the well-known "Bridges of Königsberg" riddle, we prove the well-known characterization of Eulerian graphs. We discuss Hamiltonian paths and give sufficient criteria for their existence with Dirac's and Ore's theorem.
We discuss spanning trees of graphs. In particular we present Kruskal's algorithm for finding the minimum spanning tree of a graph with edge costs. We prove Cayley's formula, stating that the complete graph on n vertices has n^(n-2) spanning trees.
Maximum flow and minimum cut
This module is about flow networks and has a distinctively algorithmic flavor. We prove the maximum flow minimum cut duality theorem.
Matchings in Bipartite Graphs
We prove Hall's Theorem and Kőnig's Theorem, two important results on matchings in bipartite graphs. With the machinery from flow networks, both have quite direct proofs. Finally, partial orderings have their comeback with Dilworth's Theorem, which has a surprising proof using Kőnig's Theorem.