What does a random contingency table look like?

Research paper by Alexander Barvinok

Indexed on: 25 Nov '09Published on: 25 Nov '09Published in: Mathematics - Combinatorics


Let R=(r_1, ..., r_m) and C=(c_1, ..., c_n) be positive integer vectors such that r_1 +... + r_m=c_1 +... + c_n. We consider the set Sigma(R, C) of non-negative mxn integer matrices (contingency tables) with row sums R and column sums C as a finite probability space with the uniform measure. We prove that a random table D in Sigma(R,C) is close with high probability to a particular matrix ("typical table'') Z defined as follows. We let g(x)=(x+1) ln(x+1)-x ln x for non-negative x and let g(X)=sum_ij g(x_ij) for a non-negative matrix X=(x_ij). Then g(X) is strictly concave and attains its maximum on the polytope of non-negative mxn matrices X with row sums R and column sums C at a unique point, which we call the typical table Z.