Monthly Archives: July 2007

Coloring Planar Graphs

Coloring general graphs is, as I said in my last post, quite difficult. But if you can restrict the structure of the graph, you can change the problem in a way that makes it *much* easier. The classic example of this is *planar graphs*.
A planar graph is a graph which can be drawn on a plane with no edges crossing. Every planar graph is also the structural equivalent to a map, where the vertices corresponding to two countries on a map are adjacent if and only if the countries share a border in the map. (A border here has non-zero length, so two countries that only meet in a corner don’t share a border.) You can see an example of a map with its corresponding planar graph overlayed to the right.

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