Empires Make Cartography Hard: The Complexity of the Empire Colouring Problem
We study the empire colouring problem (as defined by Percy Heawood in 1890) for maps containing empires formed by exactly r > 1 countries each. We prove that the problem can be solved in polynomial time using s colours on maps whose underlying adjacency graph has no induced subgraph of average degree larger than s/r. However, if s ≥ 3, the problem is NP-hard for forests of paths of arbitrary lengths (if s < r) for trees (if r ≥ 2 and s < 2r) and arbitrary planar graphs (if s < 7 for r = 2, and s < 6r − 3, for r ≥ 3). The result for trees shows a perfect dichotomy (the problem is NP-hard if 3 ≤ s ≤ 2r − 1 and polynomial time solvable otherwise). The one for planar graphs proves the NP-hardness of colouring with less than 7 colours graphs of thickness two and less than 6r − 3 colours graphs of thickness r ≥ 3.
KeywordsPolynomial Time Planar Graph Complete Graph Average Degree Colour Graph
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