I am a DPhil student at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford, supervised by Alex Scott. Previously, I completed the MSc in Mathematics and Foundations of Computer Science here at Oxford, and before that I was an undergraduate student at the Technical University of Munich.

My main research interests are in combinatorics, particularly Ramsey theory, extremal combinatorics, and probabilistic combinatorics. I also enjoy algorithmic aspects of theoretical computer science.

## Research

We consider learning policies online in Markov decision processes with the long-run average reward (a.k.a. mean payoff). To ensure implementability of the policies, we focus on policies with finite memory. Firstly, we show that near optimality can be achieved almost surely, using an unintuitive gadget we call forgetfulness. Secondly, we extend the approach to a setting with partial knowledge of the system topology, introducing two optimality measures and providing near-optimal algorithms also for these cases.

Let $V$ be a set of $n$ points on the real line. Suppose that each pairwise distance is known independently with probability $p$. How much of $V$ can be reconstructed up to isometry?

We prove that $p = (\log n)/n$ is a sharp threshold for reconstructing all of $V$ which improves a result of Benjamini and Tzalik. This follows from a hitting time result for the random process where the pairwise distances are revealed one-by-one uniformly at random. We also show that $1/n$ is a weak threshold for reconstructing a linear proportion of $V$.

The free semigroup $\mathcal{F}$ over a finite alphabet $\mathcal{A}$ is the set of all finite words with letters from $\mathcal{A}$ equipped with the operation of concatenation. A subset $S$ of $\mathcal{F}$ is $k$-product-free if no element of $S$ can be obtained by concatenating $k$ words from $S$, and strongly $k$-product-free if no element of $S$ is a (non-trivial) concatenation of at most $k$ words from $S$.

We prove that a $k$-product-free subset of $\mathcal{F}$ has upper Banach density at most $1/\rho(k)$, where $\rho(k) = \min\{\ell \colon \ell \nmid k - 1\}$. We also determine the structure of the extremal $k$-product-free subsets for all $k \notin \{3, 5, 7, 13\}$; a special case of this proves a conjecture of Leader, Letzter, Narayanan, and Walters. We further determine the structure of all strongly $k$-product-free sets with maximum density. Finally, we prove that $k$-product-free subsets of the free group have upper Banach density at most $1/\rho(k)$, which confirms a conjecture of Ortega, Rué, and Serra.

Colour the edges of the complete graph with vertex set $\{1, 2, \dotsc, n\}$ with an arbitrary number of colours. What is the smallest integer $f(\ell,k)$ such that if $n > f(\ell,k)$ then there must exist a monotone monochromatic path of length $\ell$ or a monotone rainbow path of length $k$? Lefmann, Rödl, and Thomas conjectured in 1992 that $f(\ell, k) = \ell^{k - 1}$ and proved this for $\ell \ge (3 k)^{2 k}$. We prove the conjecture for $\ell \geq k^3 (\log k)^{1 + o(1)}$ and establish the general upper bound $f(\ell, k) \leq k (\log k)^{1 + o(1)} \cdot \ell^{k - 1}$. This reduces the gap between the best lower and upper bounds from exponential to polynomial in $k$. We also generalise some of these results to the tournament setting.

Scott and Seymour conjectured the existence of a function $f \colon \mathbb{N} \to \mathbb{N}$ such that, for every graph $G$ and tournament $T$ on the same vertex set, $\chi(G)\ge f(k)$ implies that $\chi(G[N_T^+(v)])\ge k$ for some vertex $v$. In this note we disprove this conjecture even if $v$ is replaced by a vertex set of size $\mathcal{O}(\log{\lvert V(G) \rvert})$. As a consequence, we answer in the negative a question of Harutyunyan, Le, Thomassé, and Wu concerning the corresponding statement where the graph $G$ is replaced by another tournament, and disprove a related conjecture of Nguyen, Scott, and Seymour. We also show that the setting where chromatic number is replaced by degeneracy exhibits a quite different behaviour.

Given a simple Eulerian binary matroid $M$, what is the minimum number of disjoint circuits necessary to decompose $M$? We prove that $\lvert M \rvert / (\operatorname{rank}(M) + 1)$ many circuits suffice if $M = \mathbb{F}_2^n \setminus \{0\}$ is the complete binary matroid, for certain values of $n$, and that $\mathcal{O}(2^{\operatorname{rank}(M)} / (\operatorname{rank}(M) + 1))$ many circuits suffice for general $M$. We also determine the asymptotic behaviour of the minimum number of circuits in an odd-cover of $M$.

We prove that a large family of pairs of graphs satisfy a polynomial dependence in asymmetric graph removal lemmas. In particular, we give an unexpected answer to a question of Gishboliner, Shapira, and Wigderson by showing that for every $t \geq 4$, there are $K_t$-abundant graphs of chromatic number $t$. Using similar methods, we also extend work of Ruzsa by proving that a set $\mathcal{A} \subset \{1,\dots,N\}$ which avoids solutions with distinct integers to an equation of genus at least two has size $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{N})$. The best previous bound was $N^{1 - o(1)}$ and the exponent of $1/2$ is best possible in such a result. Finally, we investigate the relationship between polynomial dependencies in asymmetric removal lemmas and the problem of avoiding integer solutions to equations. The results suggest a potentially deep correspondence. Many open questions remain.

Local search algorithms for NP-hard problems such as Max-Cut frequently perform much better in practice than worst-case analysis suggests. Smoothed analysis has proved an effective approach to understanding this: a substantial literature shows that when a small amount of random noise is added to input data, local search algorithms typically run in polynomial or quasi-polynomial time. In this paper, we provide the first example where a local search algorithm for the Max-Cut problem fails to be efficient in the framework of smoothed analysis. Specifically, we construct a graph with $n$ vertices where the smoothed runtime of the 3-FLIP algorithm can be as large as $2^{\Omega(\sqrt{n})}$.

Additionally, for the setting without random noise, we give a new construction of graphs where the runtime of the FLIP algorithm is $2^{\Omega(n)}$ for any pivot rule. These graphs are much smaller and have a simpler structure than previous constructions.

We investigate the number of maximal independent set queries required to reconstruct the edges of a hidden graph. We show that randomised adaptive algorithms need at least $\Omega(\Delta^2 \log(n / \Delta) / \log \Delta)$ queries to reconstruct $n$-vertex graphs of maximum degree $\Delta$ with success probability at least $1/2$, and we further improve this lower bound to $\Omega(\Delta^2 \log(n / \Delta))$ for randomised non-adaptive algorithms. We also prove that deterministic non-adaptive algorithms require at least $\Omega(\Delta^3 \log n / \log \Delta)$ queries.

This improves bounds of Konrad, O'Sullivan, and Traistaru, and answers one of their questions. The proof of the lower bound for deterministic non-adaptive algorithms relies on a connection to cover-free families, for which we also improve known bounds.

We say that a family of permutations $t$-shatters a set if it induces at least $t$ distinct permutations on that set. What is the minimum number $f_k(n,t)$ of permutations of $\{1, \dots, n\}$ that $t$-shatter all subsets of size $k$? For $t \le 2$, $f_k(n,t) = \Theta(1)$. Spencer showed that $f_k(n,t) = \Theta(\log \log n)$ for $3 \le t \le k$ and $f_k(n,k!) = \Theta(\log n)$. In 1996, Füredi asked whether partial shattering with permutations must always fall into one of these three regimes. Johnson and Wickes recently settled the case $k = 3$ affirmatively and proved that $f_k(n,t) = \Theta(\log n)$ for $t > 2 (k-1)!$.

We give a surprising negative answer to the question of Füredi by showing that a fourth regime exists for $k \ge 4$. We establish that $f_k(n,t) = \Theta(\sqrt{\log n})$ for certain values of $t$ and prove that this is the only other regime when $k = 4$. We also show that $f_k(n,t) = \Theta(\log n)$ for $t > 2^{k-1}$. This greatly narrows the range of $t$ for which the asymptotic behaviour of $f_k(n,t)$ is unknown.

## Teaching

#### 2023 - 2024:

- Tutor for 4
^{th} year Combinatorics

#### 2022 - 2023:

- TA for 1
^{st} year Analysis I, II, and III, and 4^{th} year Combinatorics and Probabilistic Combinatorics