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The Graph Minor


Neil Robertson, Paul Seymour published a series of papers in the Journal of
Combinatorial Theory Series B.
Beginning with Graph Minors.I.Excluding a Forest, appearing and 1983 and
currently up to Graph Minors.XXIII.Nash-Williams Immersion Conjecture. The
most recent appearing in 2012.
One of the main intended results culminated in Graph Minors.XX.Wagners
Conjecture, in a proof of what is now known as The Graph Minor Theorem.

binary relation on a set is a quasi-order if it is both reflexive and transitive.
For all ,
If and , then (transitive)
A partial-order is a quasi-order that also requires anti-symmetry, that is:
If and , then

A set is well-quasi-ordered (wqo) under a relation if:

1) It is well-founded. Every non-empty subset has a minimal element.
2) It does not contain any infinite antichains. For all infinite sequences of
elements from there is such that .

have also been described in terms of ideals (see for
example Higman or J. Kruskal).
A subset of is called an upper ideal if and implies .
If , then is said to generate or is the ideal generated by .
In this context, a space is well-quasi-ordered if it is quasi-ordered and every
ideal has a finite generating set.

Orders on Sets of Graphs

Some potential orders on the set of finite undirected graphs:
Subgraph Containment
Topological Order
Immersion Order
Minor Order

Subgraph Containment
Under subgraph containment, if is isomorphic to a subgraph of

Subgraph Containment

Subgraph Containment

Topological Order

A graph is a subdivision of a graph if can be obtained by subdividing edges

of . In the topological order, if contains a subgraph isomorphic to a
subdivision of .

Immersion Order

In the immersion order, if there is a map and a map that takes each edge
of to a path from and in such that paths given by are edge disjoint.
Equivalently, H is isomorphic to a subgraph obtainable from by a series of

Immersion Order

Minor Order

Allowable operations are taking subgraphs and contracting edges. if is

(isomorphic to) a minor of .

Minor Order

The Graph Minor Theorem

The class of all finite undirected graphs is a wqo under the minor

Consequences and Applications

If a family of graphs is closed under taking minors, then
membership in that family can be characterized by a finite list of
minor obstructions.

Consequences and Applications

Vertex Disjoint Paths: Given a graph and a set of pairs of vertices of , does
there exist paths in , mutually vertex-disjoint, such that joins and for ?
If k is in the input of the problem, it is NP-complete. (Karp)
In Graph Minors.XIII.The Disjoint Paths Problem, Robertson and Seymour give
a algorithm for fixed k.
As a consequence, they obtain a algorithm for checking minor


Consequences and Applications

If a family of graphs is closed under
taking minors, then membership in
that family can be tested in
polynomial time.
1) The algorithm is non-constructive. (requires knowledge of obstruction set)
2) It hides huuuuuuuuge constants of proportionality.

Consequences and Applications

Dr. Langston and Mike Fellows pioneering work in applications included proofs
For every fixed k, gate matrix layout is solvable in polynomial time.
As well as analogs for:
Disk dimension
Minimum cut linear arrangement
Topological bandwidth
Crossing number
Maximum leaf spanning tree
Search number
Two dimensional grid load factor

Consequences and Applications

Their work would lay the foundation for what would be
formalized as a new field of study fixed parameter tractability.
R.G. Downey and M.R. Fellows. Parameterized Complexity.
Springer-Verlag 1999.

Current Research

minor containment checking.

Currently for branchwidth k: algorithm by Adler, Dorn, Fomin,

San, and Thilikos.

Current Research

the cost of the hidden constant.

Best vertex cover time is due to Chen, Kanj, and Xia.

Current Research

of obstruction sets.

Obstruction set for 2-track GML consists of and

Obstruction set for 3-track GML contains 110 elements.
(Kinnersley and Langston)

Current Research
Extension of results to directed graphs.
Difficult to determine what a minor of a directed graph should be.
Work has been done on immersions of directed graphs.
The class of directed graphs is not a wqo under (weak) immersion.
The class of all tournaments is a wqo under strong immersion. (Chudnovsky
and Seymour)

Adler, Isolde, et al. "Faster parameterized algorithms for minor containment." Theoretical Computer Science 412.50
(2011): 7018-7028.
Chen, Jianer, Iyad A. Kanj, and Ge Xia. "Improved parameterized upper bounds for vertex cover." Mathematical
Foundations of Computer Science 2006. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2006. 238-249.
Chudnovsky, Maria, and Paul Seymour. "A well-quasi-order for tournaments." Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Series
B 101.1 (2011): 47-53.
Fellows, Michael R., and Michael A. Langston. "Nonconstructive tools for proving polynomial-time decidability."
Journal of the ACM (JACM) 35.3 (1988): 727-739.
Kinnersley, Nancy G., and Michael A. Langston. "Obstruction set isolation for the gate matrix layout problem."
Discrete Applied Mathematics 54.2 (1994): 169-213.
Langston, Michael A. Fixed-Parameter Tractability, A Prehistory, in The Multivariate Complexity Revolution and
Beyond: Essays Dedicated to Michael R. Fellows on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday (H. L. Bodlaender, R. Downey,
F. V. Fomin and D. Marx, editors), Springer, 2012, 316.
Robertson, Neil, and Paul D. Seymour. "Graph minors. XIII. The disjoint paths problem." Journal of Combinatorial
Theory, Series B 63.1 (1995): 65-110.
Robertson, Neil, and Paul D. Seymour. "Graph minors. XX. Wagner's conjecture." Journal of Combinatorial Theory,
Series B 92.2 (2004): 325-357.

1. Show that finite nondirected graphs are not wqo under subgraph
2. Show that finite nondirected graphs are not wqo under the topological