# Sets with distinct subset sums

 Importance: High ✭✭✭
 Author(s): Erdos, Paul
 Subject: Number Theory » Combinatorial Number Theory
 Keywords: subset sum
 Prize: $500 (Erdos-Graham)  Posted by: mdevos on: June 24th, 2007 Say that a set has distinct subset sums if distinct subsets of have distinct sums. Conjecture There exists a fixed constant so that whenever has distinct subset sums. Erdos valued this problem at$500, and I (M. DeVos) believe these prizes are now supported by Ron Graham.

Define the function by the rule Then Erdos' conjecture is equivalent to the assertion that for a fixed constant , and more generally, we would like to understand the behavior of .

Erdos and Moser established an upper bound on , proving that . This was later improved by a constant factor by Elkies [E].

We get an easy lower bound on by observing that the set consisting of the first powers of 2 has distinct subset sums, and has maximal element . This shows that . At first glance, it might appear that such sets are optimal, but these sets have too many small numbers, and it is possible to improve upon them. Conway and Guy [CG] found a construction of sets with distinct subset sum, now called the Conway-Guy sequence, which gives an interesting upper bound on . This was this was later improved by Lunnan [L], and then by Bohman [B] to (for sufficiently large).

## Bibliography

[B] T. Bohman, A construction for sets of integers with distinct subset sums, The Electronic. Journal of Combinatorics 5 (1998) /#R3

[CG] J. H. Conway and R. K. Guy, Sets of natural numbers with distinct subset sums, Notices, Amer. Math. Soc., 15 (1968) 345.

[E] N. Elkies, An improved lower bound on the greatest element of a sum-distinct set of fixed order, J. Comb. Th. A, 41 (1986) 89-94.

[G1] R. K. Guy, Sets of integers whose subsets have distinct sums, Ann. Discrete Math., 12 (1982) 141-154.

[G2] R. K. Guy, Unsolved Problems in Number Theory, Springer-Verlag, 1981.

[L] W. F. Lunnon, Integers sets with distinct subset sums, Math. Compute, 50 (1988) 297-320.

* indicates original appearance(s) of problem.

### Mistake

You are referring to the first upper bound as a lower bound, and the lower bound as an upper bound.