, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 35–52

Critical graphs, matchings and tours or a hierarchy of relaxations for the travelling salesman problem


  • G. Cornuéjols
    • G.S.I.A., Carnegie-Mellon University
  • W. R. Pulleyblank
    • Department of Combinatorics and OptimizationUniversity of Waterloo

DOI: 10.1007/BF02579340

Cite this article as:
Cornuéjols, G. & Pulleyblank, W.R. Combinatorica (1983) 3: 35. doi:10.1007/BF02579340


A(perfect) 2-matching in a graphG=(V, E) is an assignment of an integer 0, 1 or 2 to each edge of the graph in such a way that the sum over the edges incident with each node is at most (exactly) two. The incidence vector of a Hamiltonian cycle, if one exists inG, is an example of a perfect 2-matching. Fork satisfying 1≦k≦|V|, we letPk denote the problem of finding a perfect 2-matching ofG such that any cycle in the solution contains more thank edges. We call such a matching aperfect Pk-matching. Then fork<l, the problemPk is a relaxation ofP1. Moreover if |V| is odd, thenP1V1–2 is simply the problem of determining whether or notG is Hamiltonian. A graph isPk-critical if it has no perfectPk-matching but whenever any node is deleted the resulting graph does have one. Ifk=|V|, then a graphG=(V, E) isPk-critical if and only if it ishypomatchable (the graph has an odd number of nodes and whatever node is deleted the resulting graph has a perfect matching). We prove the following results:
  1. 1.

    If a graph isPk-critical, then it is alsoPl-critical for all largerl. In particular, for allk, Pk-critical graphs are hypomatchable.

  2. 2.

    A graphG=(V, E) has a perfectPk-matching if and only if for anyXV the number ofPk-critical components inG[V - X] is not greater than |X|.

  3. 3.

    The problemPk can be solved in polynomial time provided we can recognizePk-critical graphs in polynomial time. In addition, we describe a procedure for recognizingPk-critical graphs which is polynomial in the size of the graph and exponential ink.


AMS subject classification (1980)

05 C 38

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó 1983