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Mathematics LibreTexts

4: Graph Theory

  • Page ID
    15337
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    Graph Theory is a relatively new area of mathematics, first studied by the super famous mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1735. Since then it has blossomed in to a powerful tool used in nearly every branch of science and is currently an active area of mathematics research.

    • 4.1: Prelude to Graph Theory
      Pictures like the dot and line drawing are called graphs. Graphs are made up of a collection of dots called vertices and lines connecting those dots called edges. When two vertices are connected by an edge, we say they are adjacent.
    • 4.2: Definitions
      The way we avoid ambiguities in mathematics is to provide concrete and rigorous definitions. Crafting good definitions is not easy, but it is incredibly important. The definition is the agreed upon starting point from which all truths in mathematics proceed. Is there a graph with no edges? We have to look at the definition to see if this is possible. We want our definition to be precise and unambiguous, but it also must agree with our intuition for the objects we are studying.
    • 4.3: Planar Graphs
      When is it possible to draw a graph so that none of the edges cross? If this is possible, we say the graph is planar (since you can draw it on the plane). Notice that the definition of planar includes the phrase “it is possible to.” This means that even if a graph does not look like it is planar, it still might be.
    • 4.4: Coloring
      Given any map of countries, states, counties, etc., how many colors are needed to color each region on the map so that neighboring regions are colored differently? How is this related to graph theory? Well, if we place a vertex in the center of each region (say in the capital of each state) and then connect two vertices if their states share a border, we get a graph.
    • 4.5: Euler Paths and Circuits
      An Euler path, in a graph or multigraph, is a walk through the graph which uses every edge exactly once. An Euler circuit is an Euler path which starts and stops at the same vertex. Our goal is to find a quick way to check whether a graph (or multigraph) has an Euler path or circuit.
    • 4.6: Matching in Bipartite Graphs
      Given a bipartite graph, a matching is a subset of the edges for which every vertex belongs to exactly one of the edges. Our goal in this activity is to discover some criterion for when a bipartite graph has a matching.
    • 4.7: Graph Theory (Exercises)
    • 4.8: Graph Theory (Summary)
      Hopefully this chapter has given you some sense for the wide variety of graph theory topics as well as why these studies are interesting. There are many more interesting areas to consider and the list is increasing all the time; graph theory is an active area of mathematical research.