Let R = (r1, . . ., rm) and C = (c1, . . ., cn) be positive integer vectors such that r1 + + rm = c1 + + cn. We consider the set Σ(R, C) of non-negative m × n integer matrices (contingency tables) with row sums R and column sums C as a finite probability space with the uniform measure. We prove that a random table D Σ(R, C) is close with high probability to a particular matrix (‘typical table’) Z defined as follows. We let g(x) = (x + 1)ln(x + 1) − x ln x for x ≥ 0 and let g(X) = ∑i,jg(xij) for a non-negative matrix X = (xij). Then g(X) is strictly concave and attains its maximum on the polytope of non-negative m × n matrices X with row sums R and column sums C at a unique point, which we call the typical table Z.
(Received September 01 2008)
(Revised December 10 2009)
(Online publication February 12 2010)
† Partially supported by NSF grants DMS 0400617 and DMS 0856640, and US–Israel BSF grant 2006377.