Large cross-free sets in steiner triple systems

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A cross-free set of size m in a Steiner triple system (V,B) is three pairwise disjoint m-element subsets X1,X2,X3 CV such that no B B intersects all the three Xi-s. We conjecture that for every admissible n there is an STS(n) with a cross-free set of size n-33 which if true, is best possible. We prove this conjecture for the case n=18k+3, constructing an STS(18k+3) containing a cross-free set of size 6k. We note that some of the 3-bichromatic STSs, constructed by Colbourn, Dinitz, and Rosa, have cross-free sets of size close to 6k (but cannot have size exactly 6k). The constructed STS(18k+3) shows that equality is possible for n=18k+3 in the following result: in every 3-coloring of the blocks of any Steiner triple system STS(n) there is a monochromatic connected component of size at least 2n3 +1 (we conjecture that equality holds for every admissible n). The analog problem can be asked for r-colorings as well, if r-1≡1,3(mod6) and r-1 is a prime power, we show that the answer is the same as in case of complete graphs: in every r-coloring of the blocks of any STS(n), there is a monochromatic connected component with at least nr-1 points, and this is sharp for infinitely many n.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Combinatorial Designs
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Steiner triple systems
  • edge coloring of hypergraphs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics

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