Graph Theory

A graph is a diagram which joins points, called vertices (singular vertex), with lines, called edges. Here are three examples: A B A B A E D Graph 1 C D Graph 2 C D Graph 3 C B

The degree of each vertex is defined to be the number of edges coming out of the vertex. Looking at the examples above: • In Graph 1, there are 4 edges and 4 vertices. Each vertex has degree 2. • In Graph 2, there are 5 edges and 4 vertices. A and C have degree 2 and B and D have degree 3. • In Graph 3, there are 8 edges and 5 vertices. E has degree 4 and the other vertices have degree 3.









(e) Z







1 For each of the graphs above, write down: (i) the number of edges (ii) the degree of each vertex (iii) the total of the degrees of the vertices 2 What is the connection between the number of edges of a graph and the total of the degrees of the vertices? Imagine trying to construct a graph, starting with the vertices. The graph is constructed by making sure every edge is drawn once and once only. Can you always construct a graph continuously (that is without taking your pen off the paper)? Look back at Graph 3 in the examples at the beginning. Starting with the 5 vertices, you cannot construct the graph continuously without drawing an edge twice. But, you can construct Graphs 1 and 2 continuously. In general, when constructing graphs, there are three main types: • A graph that can be drawn continuously starting at any vertex and finishing at the starting point is called Eulerian. (Graph 1 is Eulerian.) • A graph that can be drawn continuously but only starting at certain vertices and not finishing at the starting point is called semi-Eulerian. (Graph 2 is semi-Eulerian.) • A graph that cannot be drawn continuously is called non-Eulerian. (Graph 3 is non-Eulerian.) 3 What are the types of each of the graphs in Question 1? The conditions for each type are: • Eulerian – all the vertices have even degree • Semi-Eulerian – exactly 2 vertices have odd degree • Non-Eulerian – more than 2 vertices have odd degree 4 Check your answers for Question 3 using these conditions. 5 Explain why it is impossible to have a graph with only one vertex of odd degree. 6 Try to explain these conditions, write a couple of sentences to explain each one. Now to end, a famous problem, The Königsberg Bridge Problem, which was solved by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1736. 7 In Euler’s time, Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) was linked together by seven bridges as shown on the right. Was it possible to plan a walk in which each of the bridges was crossed once and once only? © The Mathematical Association 2003

Graph Theory – Solutions
1 (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (i) (i) (i) (i) (i) 1 6 3 10 12 (ii) (ii) (ii) (ii) (ii) 1, 1 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2 1, 1, 1, 3 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4 4, 4, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2 (b) Non-Eulerian (iii) (iii) (iii) (iii) (iii) 2 12 6 18 24 (d) Semi-Eulerian

2 3 5 6

2 × number of edges = the total of the degrees of the vertices (a) Eulerian (e) Eulerian (c) Non-Eulerian

The total of the degrees of all of the vertices must be even – each edge has a beginning and an end. Eulerian: To be able to draw a graph continuously, starting from any vertex, each time an edge is followed to a vertex, there must be another unused edge available along which to leave the vertex. This means that each vertex must have an even degree. Semi-Eulerian: To draw a graph continuously, it is possible that you could leave the first vertex one more time than you enter it and enter the last vertex one more time than you leave it. This means that the start and finish vertices could have odd degrees. Note that this also means that such graphs can only be drawn continuously if you start at one vertex of odd degree and finish at the other. Non-Eulerian: For any graph which does not have either nought or two vertices with odd degree, there will be at least one vertex which, at some stage in drawing the graph, will have no unused edge available to leave along once it has been entered. Thus it will be impossible to draw such a graph continuously. It is not possible. The bridges and routes between them form a graph equivalent to this:


Each node represents a region of Königsberg. Each edge represents a bridge. This graph has four vertices of odd degree and so is non-Eulerian. [first published in Mathematics in School May 2001 Volume 30 Number 3 pages 12, 13, 14] © The Mathematical Association 2003

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