Aspects of graph colouring

Williams, Jini (2004). Aspects of graph colouring. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

The four-colour conjecture of 1852, and the total colouring conjecture of 1965, have sparked off many new concepts and conjectures. In this thesis we investigate many of the outstanding conjectures, establishing various related results, and present many conjectures of our own.

We give a brief historical introduction (Chapter 1) and establish some notation, terminology and techniques (Chapter 2). Next, in Chapter 3, we examine the use of latin squares to represent edge and total colourings. In Chapters 4 - 6 we deal with vertex, edge and total colourings respectively.

Various ways of measuring different aspects of graphs are presented, in particular, the ‘colouring difference’ between two edge-colourings of a graph (Chapter 5) and the ‘beta parameter’ (defined in Chapter 2 and used in Chapters 3 and 6); this is a measure of how far from a type 1 graph a type 2 graph can be. In Chapter 6 we derive an upper bound for the beta value of any near type 1 graph and give the exact results for all Kn. The number of ways of colouring Kn and Kn,,n are also quantified.

Chapter 6 also examines Hilton’s concept of conformability. It is shown that every graph with at least A spines is conformable, and an extension to the concept, which we call G*-conformability, is introduced. We then give new necessary conditions for a cubic graph to be type 1 in relation to G*-conformability.

Various methods of manipulating graphs are considered and we present: a method to compatibly triangulate a graph G-e; a method of introducing a fourth colour thus allowing a sequence of Kempe interchanges from any edge 3-colouring of a cubic graph to any other; and a method to re-colour a near type 1 graph within a certain bound on beta.

We end this thesis with a brief discussion on possible practical uses for colouring graphs.

A list of the main results and conjectures is given at the end of each chapter, but a short list of the principle theorems proven is given below.

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