Skip to main content

Misunderstanding Embeddings, and Whitney Flips

So I should correct something that I posted a while ago about embedding 3-connected graphs. The most obvious examples of this class of graph are polyhedra - tetrahedra, cubes, etc - and maybe it's obvious that there is only one way to embed these in the plane. So in that sense, 'enumerating' the embeddings for these graphs is quite easy ... there's just one to count.

Of course, this embedding can be drawn with any of its cycles as an outer face; this is what gave rise to the different looking drawings. I guess the way to think about it is that the embedding is on the surface of a sphere - where there is no 'privileged' face to call the outer face - and that the drawing on the plane just picks one of the faces to 'squash flat' as I put it back in (wow) 2011.



Anyway - on to Whitney flips! There are a class of graphs that can be embedded in the plane in different ways (that is, the combinatorial map is different for the same outer face). These are subject to a Whitney flip, named after the mathematician who laid the foundation for matroids among other things. As an example see the image above.

The only graphs that have this flip are ones with a 2-vertex cutset - the top and bottom vertices in the image. Of course, finding these is a whole other problem, which I may or may not get around to describing...


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How many isomers of C4H11N are there?

One of the most popular queries that lands people at this blog is about the isomers of C4H11N - which I suspect may be some kind of organic chemistry question on student homework. In any case, this post will describe how to find all members of a small space like this by hand rather than using software.

Firstly, lets connect all the hydrogens to the heavy atoms (C and N, in this case). For example:


Now eleven hydrogens can be distributed among these five heavy atoms in various ways. In fact this is the problem of partitioning a number into a list of other numbers which I've talked about before. These partitions and (possible) fragment lists are shown here:


One thing to notice is that all partitions have to have 5 parts - even if one of those parts is 0. That's not strictly a partition anymore, but never mind. The other important point is that some of the partitions lead to multiple fragment lists - [3, 3, 2, 2, 1] could have a CH+NH2 or an NH+CH2.

The final step is to connect u…

Havel-Hakimi Algorithm for Generating Graphs from Degree Sequences

A degree sequence is an ordered list of degrees for the vertices of a graph. For example, here are some graphs and their degree sequences:



Clearly, each graph has only one degree sequence, but the reverse is not true - one degree sequence can correspond to many graphs. Finally, an ordered sequence of numbers (d1 >= d2 >= ... >= dn > 0) may not be the degree sequence of a graph - in other words, it is not graphical.

The Havel-Hakimi (HH) theorem gives us a way to test a degree sequence to see if it is graphical or not. As a side-effect, a graph is produced that realises the sequence. Note that it only produces one graph, not all of them. It proceeds by attaching the first vertex of highest degree to the next set of high-degree vertices. If there are none left to attach to, it has either used up all the sequence to produce a graph, or the sequence was not graphical.



The image above shows the HH algorithm at work on the sequence [3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1]. Unfortunately, this produce…

Generating Trees

Tree generation is a well known (and solved!) problem in computer science. On the other hand, it's pretty important for various problems - in my case, making tree-like fusanes. I'll describe here the slightly tortuous route I took to make trees.

Firstly, there is a famous theorem due to Cayley that the number of (labelled) trees on n vertices is nn - 2 which can be proved by using Prüfer sequences. That's all very well, you might well say - but what does all this mean?

Well, it's not all that important, since there is a fundamental problem with this approach : the difference between a labelled tree and an unlabelled tree. There are many more labeled trees than unlabeled :


There is only one unlabeled tree on 3 vertices, but 3 labeled ones
this is easy to check using the two OEIS sequences for this : A000272 (labeled) and A000055 (unlabeled). For n ranging from 3 to 8 we have [3, 16, 125, 1296, 16807, 262144] labeled trees and [1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 23] unlabeled ones. Only 23 …