A Combinatorial Algorithm for Pfaffians

  • Meena Mahajan
  • P. R. Subramanya
  • V. Vinay
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1627)


The Pfaffian of a graph is closely linked to Perfect Matching. It is also naturally related to the determinant of an appropriately defined matrix. This relation between Pfaffian and determinant is usually exploited to give a fast algorithm for computing Pfaffians.

We present the first completely combinatorial algorithm for computing the Pfaffian in polynomial time. In fact, we show that it can be computed in the complexity class GapL; this result was not known before. Our proof techniques generalize the recent combinatorial characterization of determinant [MV97] in novel ways.

As a corollary, we show that under reasonable encodings of a planar graph, Kasteleyn's algorithm for counting the number of perfect matchings in a planar graph is also in GapL. The combinatorial characterization of Pfaffian also makes it possible to directly establish several algorithmic and complexity theoretic results on Perfect Matching which otherwise use determinants in a roundabout way.


Planar Graph Perfect Match Edge Weight Combinatorial Algorithm Simple Cycle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meena Mahajan
    • 1
  • P. R. Subramanya
    • 2
  • V. Vinay
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Mathematical SciencesChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Dept. of Computer Science & AutomationIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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