- First Meeting
- Dates: December 2 -6, 2002

Location: Samalova chata, Nova Louka, Czech Republic- Second Meeting
- Dates: April 6 - 7, 2004

Location: Alfred Renyi Institute, Budapest, Hungary- Third Meeting
- Dates: November 7 - 9, 2005

Location: DIMACS Center, CoRE Building, Rutgers University

**Organizers:****Gyula Katona**, Alfred Renyi Institute, ohkatona@renyi.hu**Dezso Miklós**, Alfred Renyi Institute**Attila Sali**, Alfred Renyi Institute

DIMACS/DIMATIA/Renyi Tripartite Partnership

The intersection of combinatorics and statistical physics has been an
area of great activity over the past few years, fertilized by an
exchange not only of techniques but of objectives. This
interconnection was featured in a joint DIMACS-DIMATIA workshop on
this topic. (See http://dimacs.rutgers.edu/Workshops/Graph-Morph/)
Spurred by computing theorists interested in approximation algorithms,
statistical physicists and discrete mathematicians have
found a wealth of common ground in probabilistic
combinatorics. Close connections between percolation and random
graphs, between graph homomorphisms and hard-constraint models, and
between slow mixing and phase transition, have led to new results and
new perspectives. Of special interest is the use of these connections
in understanding typical, as opposed to extremal, behavior of
combinatorial phenomena such as graph coloring and
homomorphisms. (Recall that given graphs *G* and *H*, a mapping *f*:
*V*(*G*) *V*(*H*) is a * homomorphism* from *G* to *H* if
*f*(*x*)*f*(*y*) is an edge of *H* for every edge *xy* of *G*.)

Any ``nearest neighbor'' system of statistical physics can be
interpreted as a space of graph homomorphisms - for example,
homomorphisms to the two-node graph with one edge and one loop
correspond to the ``hard-core lattice gas model'' and to random
independent sets. Given the set of homomorphisms from a (possibly
infinite) graph *G* to a graph *H*, so-called *H*-*colorings*,
when do we see long range order? When does changing the homomorphism
site by site (heat bath) yield rapid mixing, or even eventual mixing?
The special case of proper colorings (corresponding to the
anti-ferromagnetic Potts model at zero temperature) is especially
interesting to graph theorists (see [12] but more general notions of graph
colorings may also yield some intriguing new questions.

In [31], Winkler defined a purely combinatorial,
non-probabilistic notion of long range order for graph homomorphisms,
and studied when this arises in maps from a Cayley tree to a graph *H*
with given chromatic number. This work was part of a plan to study
combinatorial versions of concepts from statistical physics, and in
particular to link graph properties which view a graph as the target
of a homomorphism to others in which it is the source, and we shall
pursue this plan.
Colorings of trees have been
a special topic of interest in this field. During the DIMACS
Special Focus on Discrete Probability (co-sponsored by the Institute
for Advanced Study), Graham Brightwell and Peter Winkler
[12] used random
3-colorings of binary trees as models of the phenomena studied in
statistical mechanics. They found a random 3-coloring of a binary tree
(subject to the condition that no red point may be adjacent to a green
one) as an illustration that such colorings can exhibit phase
transitions akin to the phase transitions exhibited by physical
systems. Their example showed a ``phase'' in which green is favored
over red even though the local conditions are the same for those two
colors. For more general discussion of graph-theoretical models of phase transitions, see [10, 11].
In more recent work, Brightwell and Winkler [13]
noted that, when considering probability measures on the set of *H*-colorings
of an infinite graph *G*, one of the simplest scenarios is when
*H* is a complete unlooped graph and *G* is a regular tree.
They
concentrated on a particularly nice class of Gibbs measures
which are invariant under parity-preserving automorphisms of the
tree and determined when more than one such measure exists. They
also analyzed the question of when there is a unique Gibbs measure,
and considered extensions to other graphs *H*. We would like to extend
this type of work in this working group.

In other relevant work on colorings, Borgs [6]
considered random *H*-colorings of rectangular
subsets of the hypercubic lattice, with separate weights for
each color. For a large class of graphs *H*, he showed that the
weights can be chosen such that all quasi-local Markov chains
have exponentially slow mixing. For most such *H* he also showed
that it is possible to find (different) weights for which the
Gibbs measure has exponentially fast spatial mixing. Generalizing the
results to other classes of graphs remains an interesting direction of
research which we will pursue.

In other relevant work on phase transitions, Borgs, Chayes, and Pittel [7] studied the optimum partitioning problem, a canonical NP-complete problem of combinatorial optimization, and showed that the model has a phase transition and established the behavior of the model near the transition. In particular, they showed that the phase transition is discontinuous or ``first-order,'' in contrast to the phase transitions established in other combinatorial models such as the random graph and the 2-satisfiability problem. They discussed recent suggestions that the order of the phase transition may be related to the hardness of the problem and this working group will continue to investigate this suggestion.

The work of the working group on Graph Colorings and Generalizations
is also relevant here. Specifically relevant is work on ``list
homomorphisms''
[18, 19]. Given a fixed target graph *H* and an
input graph *G* together with lists *S*(*x*) from *V*(*H*), *x* in *V*(*G*),
is there a homomorphism *f*:*G* rightarrow *H* such that each *f*(*x*) is
in *S*(*x*)? How many such homomorphisms are there? Hell and Nesetril
have obtained preliminary results giving algorithms for these
questions and some generalizations, and we shall pursue this
investigation in this working group. The earlier work of Gallucio,
Hell and Nesetril [17] on ordinary
*H*-colorings should be helpful
here.

A second major area of interest for this group concerns combinatorial
geometry, in particular finite geometries, geometric graphs, and
problems involving point sets in the plane.
A *finite geometry (finite projective plane)* *P* of order *q* is a
family of *q*^{2}+*q*+1 subsets (called * lines*) of a base set of size
*q*^{2}+*q*+1 (called the set of * points*), where each line has *q*+1
points, and any two of the lines have exactly one point in common.
Finite geometries is an area of combinatorics closely related to
combinatorial designs. This area has many intriguing open problems and
applications in cryptography, design of computer and communication
networks, software testing, storage in disk arrays, signal processing,
sports scheduling, group testing, and clone screening in molecular
biology. (See Colbourn, Dinitz and Stinson
[14] and Stinson [25] for a
discussion of these applications of finite geometries and
combinatorial designs.)

One area we propose to study concerns blocking sets. A subset *B* of
the points in a finite geometry is called a * blocking* set if both
*B* and its complement $\bar*B*$ intersect all lines. A classical
question of Erdós asks for the existence of an absolute constant
*C* such that in any finite projective plane there exists a blocking
set intersecting every line in no more than *C* points. There are
many related results, but none of them solves this problem. For
Galois planes *PG*(2, *q*), *q* = *p ^{r}*,

Another exciting area concerns defining sets. A subset *D* of the
lines of a finite projective plane is called a * defining set* if
no other projective plane can contain *D* as a subfamily (i.e. *D* can
be uniquely extended to a plane by adding further lines). Recent
results on the size of defining sets in *PG*(2,*q*) using a random
construction suggest that further improvements are possible.
Combining the approach of Boros and Szonyi [9]
with a result of Kahn [20], we hope to show that *PG*(2,*q*) allows
defining sets of size *O*(*q*).

This working group will interact with the working group on Extremal Combinatorics on a number of topics, most specifically on group testing. The connections among group testing, combinatorial designs, and finite geometries are discussed in [14, 25].

A *geometric graph* is a graph drawn in the plane so that the
vertices are represented by points in general position and the edges
are represented by straight line segments connecting the corresponding
points. We shall consider Turán-type problems for geometric graphs. One problem is to find the maximum
number *c _{k}*(

A related problem is to find *d _{k}*(

We will also investigate similar problems for parallel edges. Two
edges in a geometric graph are * parallel* if they are disjoint and
the convex hull of their union is a convex quadrilateral. We will
study *p _{k}*(

A hyperplane *R ^{d}* ``bisects'' a set

One of the main features of research in contemporary science in general and discrete mathematics in particular is the strong interrelation of parts of mathematics long thought to be unrelated. Thus the combinatorial methods in statistical physics are based in invariant theory and algebraical techniques (Tutte polynomials and homomorphisms) while some of the most efficient structures in combinatorial geometry and combinatorics are achieved by means of advanced algebraic geometry. This is our motivation for combining the two at-first-blush different topics of combinatorial geometry and homomorphisms/statistical physics in this one working group. To tie these topics together, we shall investigate the uses of combinatorial methods in algebraic geometry and the uses of algebraic geometry methods in combinatorics. The work will build in part on a DIMACS workshop on Algorithmic and Quantitative Aspects of Real Algebraic Geometry in Mathematics and Computer Science held in March 2001 (see http://dimacs.rutgers.edu/Workshops/Algorithmic/).

We mention some exciting recent developments in the application of
elementary algebraic geometry to combinatorics, mostly to classical
extremal problems. In his seminal paper [2], Alon proved a
surprisingly powerful yet elementary nonvanishing theorem for
polynomial functions on finite product sets in an affine space.
Applications include results in additive number theory and existence
theorems for regular subgraphs and graph colorings. Moreover, the
approach allows a unified treatment of several known results which
describe combinatorial properties in terms of ideals in polynomial
rings. In [22], Kollár, Rónyai and Szabó used
algebraic hypersurfaces to construct graphs with high edge density but
without complete bipartite graphs as subgraphs. Recently, Elekes and
Szabó [15, 16] studied 3-variate real
polynomials which take few values on certain boxes of the form
*X*x*Y*x*Z*, where *X*,*Y*,*Z* are finite subsets of the reals.
Drawing tools from the theory of algebraic curves, they established a
structure theorem for such polynomials. These three research
directions open new avenues in applying algebro-geometric tools to
combinatorial problems which we intend to pursue, specifically the
study of the ideals of infinite point sets other than complete direct
products in order to obtain interesting nonvanishing theorems for
novel combinatorial applications; modifications/extensions of the
geometric construction behind the norm graphs, particularly,
intersections of diagonal hypersurfaces or more general algebraic
varieties in order to obtain interesting explicit constructions of
extremal objects; and extensions to polynomials/rational functions
involving more than three variables. This working group will also examine
various topics that lie at the interface between the two disciplines
of computational geometry and real algebraic geometry, topics such as
construction and analysis of arrangements of algebraic surfaces, lower
bound proofs, robust computations, and more. The contributions of real
algebraic geometry to computational geometry are quite well known, but
perhaps less well known are some interactions in the other direction,
e.g., separating the `combinatorial' from the `algebraic' complexity
of semialgebraic sets [24].

[1] Agarwal, P.K., Aronov, B., Pach, J., Pollack, R., and
Sharir, M., ``Quasi-planar Graphs Have a Linear Number of Edges,''
* Combinatorica*, ** 17**, (1997), 1-7.

[2] Alon, N., ``Combinatorial Nullstellensatz,''
* Combin. Probab. Comput.*, ** 8**, (1999), 7-29.

[3] Bárány, I., ``A Short Proof of Kneser's
Conjecture,'' * J. Comb. Th.*, ** A25**, (1978), 325-326.

[4] Béres, L., and Illés, T., ``Computational
Investigation of the Covering Number of Finite Projective Planes with Small Order,''
* Alkalmaz. Mat. Lapok*, ** 17**, (1997), 397-411.

[5] Bespamyatnikh, S., Kirkpatrick, D., and Snoeyink, J.,
``Generalizing
Ham Sandwich Cuts to Equitable Subdivisions,'' * Discrete and
Comp. Geom.*, ** 24**, (2000), 605-622.

[6] Borgs, C., ``On Mixing for Random *H*-Colorings of
the Hypercubic Lattice,'' DIMACS-DIMATIA Workshop on Graphs, Morphisms
and Statistical Physics, DIMACS, March 2001.

[7] Borgs, C., Chayes, J., and Pittel, B., ``A Phase Transition in the Optimum Partitioning Problem,'' DIMACS-DIMATIA Workshop on Graphs, Morphisms and Statistical Physics, DIMACS, March 2001.

[8] Boros, E., ``*PG*(2, *p ^{s}*),

[9] Boros, E., and Szonyi, T., ``On Partial Projective Planes,'' Technical Report, MO 11-86, CAI-HAS, SZTAKI, March 1986. (In Hungarian)

[10] Brightwell, G., and Winkler, P., ``Graph Homomorphisms and Phase Transitions,'' * J. Comb. Th.*, ** B77**, (1999), 415-435.

[11] Brightwell, G., and Winkler, P., ``Gibbs Measures and Dismantlable Graphs,'' * J.
Comb. Theory*, ** B78**, (2000), 141-169.

[12] Brightwell, G., and Winkler, P., ``Random Colorings of a Cayley Tree,'' preprint, Bell Labs, 2000.

[13] Brightwell, G., and Winkler, P., ``Proper Colorings of Regular Trees,'' DIMACS-DIMATIA Workshop on Graphs, Morphisms and Statistical Physics, DIMACS, March 2001.

[14] Colbourn, C.J., Dinitz, J.H., and Stinson, D.R., ``Applications of Combinatorial Design to Communications, Cryptography, and Networking,'' http://www.emba.uvm.edu/~dinitz/preprints.html

[15] Elekes, Gy., and Szabó, E., ``On Triple Lines and
Cubic Curves,'' * Combinatorica*, to appear.

[16] Elekes, Gy., and Szabó, E., ``Triple Points of Circle
Grids,'' * Combinatorica*, to appear.

[17] Galluccio, A., Hell, P., and Nesetril, J., ``The
Complexity of *H*-coloring of Bounded Degree Graphs,'' KAM-DIMATIA
Technical Report 99-416, 1999.

[18] Hell, P., ``List Homomorphisms,'' DIMACS-DIMATIA Workshop on Graphs, Morphisms and Statistical Physics, DIMACS, March 2001.

[19] Hell, P., and Nesetril, J., ``Counting List Homomorphisms and Graphs with Bounded Degree,'' KAM-DIMATIA Series Technical Report 2001-521, 2001.

[20] Kahn, J., ``On a Problem of Erdös and Lovász:
Random Lines in a Projective
Plane,''
* Combinatorica*, ** 12**, (1992), 417-423.

[21] Kaneko, A., and Kano, M., ``Balanced Partitions of
Point Sets in the
Plane,'' * Computational Geometry*, ** 13**, 1999, 253-261.

[22] Kollár, J.,
Rónyai, L., and Szabó, T., ``Norm Graphs and Bipartite Turán
Numbers,'' * Combinatorica*, ** 16**, (1996), 399-406.

[23] Pach, J., and Törocsik, J.,
``Some Geometric Applications of Dilworth's Theorem,'' * Discrete Comput. Geom.*, ** 12**, (1994), 1-7.

[24] Sharir, M., ``What Can Computational Geometry and Real Algebraic Geometry Contribute to Each Other,'' DIMACS Workshop on Algorithmic and Quantitative Aspects of Real Algebraic Geometry in Mathematics and Computer Science, March 2001.

[25] Stinson, D.R., ``Combinatorial Designs with Selected Applications: Lecture Notes,'' Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, December 1996.

[26] Tóth, G., ``A Note on Geometric Graphs,'' DIMACS Technical Report 99-17, 1999.

[27] Tóth, G., and Valtr, P., ``Geometric Graphs with Few
Disjoint Edges,'' * Discrete and Computational Geometry*, ** 22**,
(1999), 633-642

[28] Valtr, P., ``Generalizations of Davenport-Schinzel
Sequences,'' in R.L. Graham, J. Kratochvíl, J. Nesetril, and
F.S. Roberts (eds.), * Contemporary Trends in Discrete
Mathematics*, DIMACS Series, Vol. 49, American Mathematical Society,
Providence, RI, 1999, 349-389.

[29] Valtr, P., ``Graph Drawings with no *k* Pairwise Crossing
Edges,'' in G. DiBattista (ed.), * Graph Drawing '97, Rome*, 1997,
205-218.

[30] Valtr, P., ``On Geometric Graphs with no *k* Pairwise
Parallel Edges,'' * Discrete Comput. Geom.*, ** 19**, (1998),
461-469.

[31] Winkler, P., ``Graph Homomorphisms and Long Range Order,'' DIMACS-DIMATIA Workshop on Graphs, Morphisms and Statistical Physics, DIMACS, March 2001.

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Document last modified on May 3, 2005.