Thirty Essays on Geometric Graph Theory

pp 461-482


Realizability of Graphs and Linkages

  • Marcus SchaeferAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, DePaul University Email author 

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We show that deciding whether a graph with given edge lengths can be realized by a straight-line drawing has the same complexity as deciding the truth of sentences in the existential theory of the real numbers, ETR; we introduce the class \(\exists \mathbb{R}\) that captures the computational complexity of ETR and many other problems. The graph realizability problem remains \(\exists \mathbb{R}\)-complete if all edges have unit length, which implies that recognizing unit distance graphs is \(\exists \mathbb{R}\)-complete. We also consider the problem for linkages: In a realization of a linkage, vertices are allowed to overlap and lie on the interior of edges. Linkage realizability is \(\exists \mathbb{R}\)-complete and remains so if all edges have unit length. A linkage is called rigid if any slight perturbation of its vertices that does not break the linkage (i.e., keeps edge lengths the same) is the result of a rigid motion of the plane. Testing whether a configuration is not rigid is \(\exists \mathbb{R}\)-complete.