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Elemente der Mathematik


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Volume 71, Issue 2, 2016, pp. 57–68
DOI: 10.4171/EM/300

Published online: 2016-04-05

Hurwitz’s counting isomers of alkanes

Holger Helmstetter[1] and Nicola M.R. Oswald[2]

(1) Würzburg, Germany
(2) Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany

In a late entry in his mathematical diary from 1918 Adolf Hurwitz refined ideas due to Arthur Cayley in order to count trees of specific structure (namely isomers of alkanes). We shall analyze his reasoning in detail and discuss it in context with Cayley's original approach and George Pólya's later enumeration method.

Keywords: Adolf Hurwitz, trees, counting chemical compounds

Helmstetter Holger, Oswald Nicola: Hurwitz’s counting isomers of alkanes. Elem. Math. 71 (2016), 57-68. doi: 10.4171/EM/300