**A**nother permutation-based Le Monde mathematical puzzle:

Given the integers 1,…n, a “perfect” combination is a pair (i,j) of integers such that no other pair enjoys the same sum. For n=33, what is the maximum of perfect combinations one can build?And for n=214?

**A** rather straightforward problem, or so it seemed: take the pairs (2m,2m+1), their sums all differ, and we get the maximal possible number of sums, ⌊n/2⌋… However, I did not read the question properly (!) and the constraint is on the sum (i+j), namely

How many mutually exclusive pairs (i,j) can be found with different sums all bounded by n=33? n=2014?

**I**n which case, the previous and obvious proposal works no longer… The dumb brute-force search

T=10^6 sol=0 for (t in 1:T){ perm=sample(1:sample(seq(20,32,2),1)) sal=sum(unique(apply(matrix(perm,ncol=2),1,sum))<33) if (sal>sol){ sol=sal;laperm=perm} }

leads to a solution of

> sol [1] 12 > laperm [1] 6 9 1 24 13 20 4 7 21 14 17 3 16 11 19 25 23 18 12 26 15 2 5 10 22 [26] 8 > unique(apply(matrix(laperm,ncol=2),1,sum)) [1] 17 28 26 47 31 32 30 22 23 19 27 25 24

which is close of the solution sol=13 proposed in Le Monde… It is obviously hopeless for a sum bounded by 2014. A light attempt at simulated annealing did not help either.