On the Limiting Distribution for the Longest Alternating Sequence in a Random Permutation

Research paper by Harold Widom

Indexed on: 21 Nov '05Published on: 21 Nov '05Published in: Mathematics - Combinatorics


Recently Richard Stanley initiated a study of the distribution of the length as(w) of the longest alternating subsequence in a random permutation w from the symmetric group $S_n$. Among other things he found an explicit formula for the generating function (on n and k) for the probability that as(w) is at most k and conjectured that the distribution, suitably centered and normalized, tended to a Gaussian with variance 8/45. In this note we present a proof of the conjecture based on the generating function.