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Algebraic Design Theory

Warwick de Launey and Dane Flannery
American Mathematical Society
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Mathematical Surveys and Monographs 175
[Reviewed by
Ezra Brown
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Algebraic Design Theory, in the AMS Surveys & Monographs series, is not a survey. It is a research monograph reviewing results since the early 90s in a new area of combinatorics started by De Launey and K. Horadam. The motivation for algebraic design theory and for the book is the insight that the difficult problems in the area of combinatorial designs appear to be algebraic in nature.

The book presents a unified view of the algebraic ideas that are brought to bear on the theory of combinatorial designs, and points the way toward future research. As such, its appeal is not wide. The background required for understanding the material is considerable. Even for someone who knows combinatorics it will be pretty slow going and will require careful reading. On the other hand, this is a book that will amply repay careful study.

Alas, the book also serves as a memorial to senior author Warwick De Launey, who passed away in 2010 after a long illness.

Ezra Brown ( is Alumni Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Virginia Tech, with degrees from Rice and LSU. He is a number theorist by trade, but his first publication was about tournaments and Hadamard matrices. He is a fairly regular contributor to the MAA journals. He sings (everything from blues to opera), plays a tolerable jazz piano, and his wife Jo is teaching him to be a gardener.