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On $q$-analogs of Steiner systems and covering designs

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  • The $q$-analogs of covering designs, Steiner systems, and Turán designs are studied. It is shown that $q$-covering designs and $q$-Turán designs are dual notions. A strong necessary condition for the existence of Steiner structures (the $q$-analogs of Steiner systems) over $\mathbb F$2 is given. No Steiner structures of strength $2$ or more are currently known, and our condition shows that their existence would imply the existence of new Steiner systems of strength $3$. The exact values of the $q$-covering numbers $\mathcal C$q$(n,k,1)$ and $\mathcal C$q$(n,n-1,r)$ are determined for all $q,n,k,r$. Furthermore, recursive upper and lower bounds on the size of general $q$-covering designs and $q$-Turán designs are presented. Finally, it is proved that $\mathcal C$2$(5,3,2) = 27$ and $\mathcal C$2$(7,3,2) \leq 399$. Tables of upper and lower bounds on $\mathcal C$2$(n,k,r)$ are given for all $n \leq 8$.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 51E10, 05B40; Secondary: 94B25.


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