Local Chromatic Number, KY Fan's Theorem, And Circular Colorings

The local chromatic number of a graph was introduced in [14]. It is in between the chromatic and fractional chromatic numbers. This motivates the study of the local chromatic number of graphs for which these quantities are far apart. Such graphs include Kneser graphs, their vertex color-critical subgraphs, the Schrijver (or stable Kneser) graphs; Mycielski graphs, and their generalizations; and Borsuk graphs. We give more or less tight bounds for the local chromatic number of many of these graphs.

We use an old topological result of Ky Fan [17] which generalizes the Borsuk–Ulam theorem. It implies the existence of a multicolored copy of the complete bipartite graph Kt/2⌉,⌊t/2⌋ in every proper coloring of many graphs whose chromatic number t is determined via a topological argument. (This was in particular noted for Kneser graphs by Ky Fan [18].) This yields a lower bound of ⌈t/2⌉ + 1 for the local chromatic number of these graphs. We show this bound to be tight or almost tight in many cases.

As another consequence of the above we prove that the graphs considered here have equal circular and ordinary chromatic numbers if the latter is even. This partially proves a conjecture of Johnson, Holroyd, and Stahl and was independently attained by F. Meunier [42]. We also show that odd chromatic Schrijver graphs behave differently, their circular chromatic number can be arbitrarily close to the other extreme.

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Correspondence to Gábor Simonyi*.

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* Research partially supported by the Hungarian Foundation for Scientific Research Grant (OTKA) Nos. T037846, T046376, AT048826, and NK62321.

† Research partially supported by the NSERC grant 611470 and the Hungarian Foundation for Scientific Research Grant (OTKA) Nos. T037846, T046234, AT048826, and NK62321.

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Simonyi*, G., Tardos†, G. Local Chromatic Number, KY Fan's Theorem, And Circular Colorings. Combinatorica 26, 587–626 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00493-006-0034-x

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Mathematics Subject Classification (2000):

  • 05C15
  • 55U10