Applications of combinatorial designs in computer science

Charles J. Colbourn, Paul C. van Oorschot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The theory of combinatorial designs has been used in widely different areas of computation concerned with the design and analysis of both algorithms and hardware. Combinatorial designs capture a subtle balancing property that is inherent in many difficult problems and hence can provide a sophisticated tool for addressing these problems. The role of combinatorial designs in solving many problems that are basic to the field of computing is explored in this paper. Case studies of many applications of designs to computation are given; these constitute a first survey, which provides a representative sample of uses of designs. More importantly, they suggest paradigms in which designs can be used profitably in algorithm design and analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-250
Number of pages28
JournalACM Computing Surveys (CSUR)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Authentication
  • combinatorial design
  • distributed consensus
  • file organization
  • intercommunication networks
  • memory access
  • parallel algorithms
  • parallel sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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