01 September 2014

Kuratowski's Theorem

It has been more than a year since I've written in my theorem journal, but last week in Wisconsin I learned a theorem that definitely deserves to compel my return to the practice!

A graph is planar if it can be drawn in a plane (two dimensions, ie on a piece of paper) without graph edges crossing.

A subdivision of a graph G=(V,E) is a graph resulting from taking an edge e in E with endpoints u,v in V, introducing a new vertex w, and replacing e with two new edges, one between u,w and one between w,v.

Kuratowski's Theorem states that a graph with a finite number of vertices V and edges E is planar if and only if it does not contain a subgraph that is a subdivision of (1) the completely connected graph on five vertices or (2) the complete bipartite graph on six vertices, three in each partition.

Completely connected graph on five vertices:

Image from mathworld.

Complete bipartite graph on six vertices with 3 in each partition:

Image from mathworld.