# AN ALGORITHM FOR DETERMINING WHETHER A GIVEN BINARY MATROID IS GRAPHIC

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1 AN ALGORITHM FOR DETERMINING WHETHER A GIVEN BINARY MATROID IS GRAPHIC W. T. TUTTE. Introduction. In a recent series of papers [l-4] on graphs and matroids I used definitions equivalent to the following. A binary chain-group N on a. finite set M is a class of subsets of M forming a group under mod 2 addition. These subsets are the chains of N. A chain of N is elementary if it is non-null and has no other non-null chain of AT as a subset. A binary matroid is the class of elementary chains of a binary chain-group. As an example of a binary chain-group we may take the class of all cuts of a given finite graph G. A cut of G is determined by a partition of its set of vertices into two disjoint subsets U and V, and is defined as the set of all edges having one end in U and the other in V. I have called the corresponding binary matroid the bond-matroid of G. In the above-mentioned series of papers I obtained necessary and sufficient conditions for a given binary matroid to be graphic, that is representable as the bond-matroid of a graph. On several occasions it has been pointed out to me that these results are of interest to electrical engineers, but that a practical method for deciding whether or not a given binary matroid was graphic would be still more interesting. In what follows I present an algorithm which I hope will be of some use in this connection. This algorithm is described in 3 and the theorems needed to justify it are collected in Theorems on binary matroids. The rank of a binary chaingroup N is the maximum number of chains linearly independent with respect to mod 2 addition. We denote it by rin). The structure of N is uniquely determined by a representative matrix R. The columns of R correspond to the elements of M and the rows to the members of a set of r(a linearly independent chains of N. The elements of R are residues mod 2. The element in the i'th row and jth column is if the corresponding element of M belongs to the corresponding chain of N, and is otherwise. It is clear that the chains of N correspond to the linear combinations of the rows of R, the total number of chains being 2r(A. Received by the editors December 22, 959. The idea which led to this paper occurred to me during a conversation with Dr. S. Seshu. Another discussion of the problem has been given by Auslander and Trent [6]. 95

2 96 W. T. TUTTE [December It may happen that we can replace the elements of R by ordinary integers, the residue by the integer and the residue by + or, in such a way that the determinant of each r(ar)x/'(x) submatrix of R takes the value, or. Such matrices of integers and the associated "regular chain-groups" are discussed in [l] and [3J. If R has the property just stated we say that the binary matroid corresponding to R is regular. Suppose we are given a representative matrix R of N. Then by elementary transformations of R, including possibly a permutation of the columns, we can obtain a new representative matrix R' of N in which the first r(n) columns constitute a unit matrix. We call R' a standard representative matrix of N, or of the associated binary matroid. Theorem. Ina standard representative matrix R' of a binary chaingroup N each row represents an elementary chain. Proof. Suppose the chain X corresponding to the ith row is not elementary. Then it contains two non-null chains X and F, where X-\-Y=K~i, one of which includes no element of M associated with any of the first r{n) columns of R'. But this is impossible since X and F must correspond to linear combinations of the rows of R'. Let M be a binary matroid on a finite set M. We refer to the members of M as the cells of M. Because of geometrical analogies pointed out in [2] we refer to the members of the class M as its points. (They are the "circuits" of the matroid in Hassler Whitney's terminology [S].) A separator of M is a subset 5 of M such that no point of M meets both.s and M S. A separator is elementary if it is non-null and contains no other non-null separator. It is clear that the elementary separators of M are disjoint and that their union is M. In view of Theorem they can be determined by inspection of any standard representative matrix of M. We call M connected if it has no separator other than M and its null subset. Let N be a binary chain-group on a set M, and let 5 be any subset of M. The class of all chains of N contained in 5 is a binary chain-group on S. We denote it by NxS. The class of all intersections of 5 with chains of N is another binary chain-group on S which we denote by N-S. If M is the matroid corresponding to N there are analogous definitions of matroids MXS and M-S on S. The points of MXS are those points of M which are contained in S, and the points of M- S are the minimal non-null intersections with S of points of M [3, 3]. MXS and M-S are the matroids corresponding to the chain-groups NxS and N-S respectively [3, (4.) and (4.2)].

3 i96] AN ALGORITHM FOR GRAPHIC BINARY MATROIDS 97 The following rules, proved with matroids. (i) If TQSQM, then (MX5)X T = MX T, (M-S) T= M T, in [4, 3] are useful in calculations (AT S) X T = (MX (M -is - T))) - T, imxs) T = (M im - is- T))) X T. (ii) A subset S of M is a separator of M if and only if M-S = MXS. Let F be a point of a binary matroid M on a set M. We define the bridges of Y in M as the elementary separators of the matroid M- im Y). To each such bridge B there corresponds a Y-component MXiBKJY) of Af. Theorem 2. If M is connected then each Y-component of M is connected. This theorem can be deduced from [4, (6.3)]. By the definition of a connected flat in [2, l] the statement that SKJY is a connected flat of M means that AfX(SUF) is a connected matroid. Consider any F-component MX ibvj Y) of M, where B is a bridge of Y in M. Putting S = B in [4, (6.3)] we find that either MXiBVJY) is connected or But im- im - Y)) X B = M X B. (Af im - F)) X B = (Af im - Y)) - B, by (ii), = MB, by (i). Hence in the latter alternative M is not connected, by (ii), which is contrary to hypothesis. For each bridge B of F in Af the matroid (AfX(5UF))- F is of interest. It may happen that its points are disjoint subsets Si, S2,, Sk of F whose union is Y. If so we say that B partitions Y, and that {Si, S2, - -, Sk} is the partition of F determined by B. Then each standard representative matrix of (ATX(5UF)) F has just one nonzero element in each column, and its rows correspond to the points Si. Theorem 3. If M is regular then each bridge of Y in M partitions Y [4, (7.3)].

4 98 W. T. TUTTE [December Theorem 4. Every graphic matroid is regular [4, (4.)]. Let B and B' be bridges of F in M which partition F, and let them determine partitions {Si,, St} and {Pi,, Tm} of F respectively. We call them nonoverlapping bridges if we can find Si and Tj such that Y=SiUTj. In the remaining case B and B' overlap. We call F an even point of M if it satisfies the following two conditions. (a) Each bridge of F in Af partitions F. (b) The bridges of F in M can be arranged in two disjoint classes so that no two members of the same class overlap. In [4] even points were defined only for regular matroids. For them condition (a) can be omitted because of Theorem 3. Theorem 5. In a graphic matroid every point is even [4, (8.2)]. Theorem 6. Let M be the bond-matroid of a graph G. Let Y be a point of M having at most one bridge in M. Then there is a vertex a of G such that Y is the set of all edges of G joining a to other vertices [4, (4.3)]. Theorem [4, (4.)]. 7. If M is graphic and SQM, then MXS is graphic, Theorem 8. Let Y be an even point of a connected binary matroid M such that every Y-component of M is graphic. Then M is graphic. The last theorem requires some comment. It derives from [4, (8.5)]. But the enunciation of [4, (8.5)] makes the additional postulates that M is regular and that F has at least one bridge. The latter requirement is not important. For if Y has no bridges it is the only point of M, and then M is trivially graphic. The postulate of regularity in [4, (8.5)] is not necessary. It is used only in the appeal to [4, (7.4) ] and in the proof that MX ( c7,w F) is regular. But the argument of [4, (7.4)] can be applied to any binary matroid Af. It shows that if B partitions F in Af it determines the same partition of F in MXS, (where BVJ YQS). Moreover with the above enunciation it is unnecessary to prove MXiUJJY) regular as a step towards proving it graphic. 3. The algorithm. Suppose we are given a connected binary matroid on a set M. We can determine whether or not it is graphic by the following procedure. First we construct a standard representative matrix R'. If no column of R' has more than two nonzero elements we form the mod 2 sum of the rows of R', adjoin it to R' as an extra row, and so obtain

5 i96] AN ALGORITHM FOR GRAPHIC BINARY MATROIDS 99 the incidence matrix of a graph whose bond-matroid is Af. In the remaining case we may suppose, without loss of generality that the last column of R' has nonzero elements in the first, second and third rows. The first row corresponds to a point F of Af, by Theorem. Striking out from R' the first row and all columns having nonzero elements in the first row we obtain a standard representative matrix R" of Af im Y). From R" we obtain the elementary separators of Af (M- Y), that is the bridges Bu - - -, Bm of F in Af. We may find that F has only one bridge in M. If so we repeat the process with the point of Af corresponding to the second row. If this point has only one bridge we proceed to the third row. If this too corresponds to a point with only one bridge we may assert that Af is not graphic. For suppose Af is the bond-matroid of a graph G. Then by Theorem 6 the last column of R' corresponds to an edge of G having three distinct ends. In the remaining case we may suppose without loss of generality that F has at least two bridges in Af. For each bridge 7?,- we determine the corresponding F-component MXiBiUY). A standard representative matrix of this can be obtained as follows. We take those rows of R' which are extensions of the rows of R" representing chains in Bit adjoin the first row of R', and then suppress all the zero columns of the resulting matrix. We next construct a standard representative matrix of (Af X (73t-W F)) Y to see if B, partitions F. If it does not we can assert that Af is nonregular, by Theorem 3, and therefore nongraphic, by Theorem 4. In the remaining case each bridge 75 partitions F. We examine the partitions to see which bridges overlap, and thus determine whether or not Y is even. If it is not we can assert that Af is not graphic, by Theorem 5. If F is even we have simplified the problem. For, by Theorems 7 and 8, Af is graphic if and only if its F-components are all graphic. But each of these F-components is connected, by Theorem 2, and has lower rank than Af. We repeat the above procedure for the F-components of M, noting that we already have standard representative matrices for them, and continue in this way until the process terminates. To conclude we observe that if we can obtain graphs corresponding to the F-components of a graphic matroid Af we can construct from them a graph corresponding to Af. The necessary constructions are described in the course of the proofs of Theorems (8.4) and (8.5) of [4].

6 9 W. T. TUTTE [December The algorithm can be used to decide whether a given graph is planar. For a planar graph is simply a graph whose circuit-matroid, the dual of its bond-matroid, is graphic. 4. An example. Consider the connected binary matroid Af defined by the following standard representative matrix Ri [ There are several columns with three or more l's. Let us work with Column 3, without bothering to put it in the last place. The first row with a in this column is the fifth. Let this correspond to a point F of Af. Striking out row 5 and every column having a in this row we obtain the following standard representative matrix R2 of M- im Y) lo We observe that the elementary separators of Af (M Y), the bridges of Fin Af, arepi={6}, 2={l, 7, 5} and P3= {2, 3, 4, 4}, where cells of Af are represented by the numbers of the associated columns in J?i. The general rule for constructing an elementary separator is to take an arbitrary row of R2, then every row having a in the same column as a of the first row taken, then every row having a in the same column as a row already chosen, and so on. The elementary separator is determined by the l's of the resulting submatrix. The F-components corresponding to the bridges Bi (i = l, 2, 3)

7 I96] AN ALGORITHM FOR GRAPHIC BINARY MATROIDS Fig Fig. 2

8 92 W. T. TUTTE [December 3 J5 7 Fig. 3 are represented, in order, by the following three submatrices of Pi. In each submatrix the last row represents F. Rz = P4 = Rb = il n If zero columns are ignored these are all standard representative matrices, to within a permutation of the rows. Let the corresponding matroids be M3, M4 and M6 respectively.

9 i96] AN ALGORITHM FOR GRAPHIC BINARY MATROIDS 93 Fig. 4 Our next question is: do Bi, B2 and B3 partition F? To answer it in the case of B3 we strike out all the columns of 5 having a in the last row, thus obtaining the following representative matrix of Ms-Y=iMXiB3KJY))-Y This can be reduced to standard form (to within a permutation of columns) by adding the first row to the others, then the new second row to the third and fourth, and then the new third row to the fourth

10 94 W. T. TUTTE [December The standard representative matrix has only one in each column. We may therefore assert that B3 partitions Y. The corresponding partition, P3 say, is {{5, 3}, {8, }, {9, 2}, {} }. Similarly we find that i and B2 determine partitions Pi = {{8,9,,2,3},{5,ll}}andP2={{5,,ll},{8,9},{l2,3}} of F respectively. If the three bridges had not all partitioned F, if for example the standard representative matrix of Af4- F had had two l's in one of its columns, the algorithm would have terminated here and we would have written off Af as nongraphic. As things are we must go on to investigate whether F is even. This is not difficult. Bi and B2 do not overlap since the unions of the member {8, 9,, 2, 3} of Pi and the member {5,, } of P2 is the whole of F. Hence F is even; its bridges can be arranged in two disjoint classes U= {Bi, B2\ and V= {Bi} so that no two members of the same class overlap. If we had found that F was not even we would thereby have proved Af nongraphic. As it is we have completed the first stage of the algorithm

11 i96] AN ALGORITHM FOR GRAPHIC BINARY MATROIDS 95 and we can assert that M is graphic if and only if Af3, M4 and M6 are all graphic. It remains to apply the algorithm to 3, 4 and Pb- Af3 is graphic because R3 has at most two l's in each column. 4 has three l's in the eighth column. The points of M4 corresponding to the first and third rows are found to have one bridge each. (We ignore zero columns.) In the case of the third row this is ensured j Fig. 6 by the construction of 4. If the same result were found for the second row then M4 and M would be proved nongraphic. Actually the point of M4 corresponding to the second row, Y' say, has two bridges. The submatrices of 4 corresponding to the F'-components are Rt, consisting of the first and second rows, and 7, consisting of the second and third. Since Ro and 7 have only two rows each they represent graphic matroids. Hence both bridges partition F', by Theorems 3 and 4. Since Y' has only two bridges it is even. The algorithm thus shows M4 to be graphic. MB is also found to be graphic. We do not give the analysis in detail. We remark however that it can be carried out in two steps. The

12 96 W. T. TUTTE [December first replaces 6 by 8, consisting of the first two rows, and 9, consisting of the last three. The second replaces R9 by, consisting of the second and third rows of 6, and n, consisting of the third and fourth. i 2 I h 5 j» Fro. 7 We conclude that M is graphic. The construction of the corresponding graph may be of interest. Let Gi denote a graph whose bond-matroid is represented by <. The construction of G3 from 3 is trivial, and this graph is represented in Figure. G6 and G? are represented in Figure 2. To construct G4 we combine them, with elimination of the vertex d (Figure 3). G9 can be constructed similarly from do and Gn. It can then be combined with G8, with elimination of a vertex, to produce G6 (Figure 4).

13 i96o] AN ALGORITHM FOR GRAPHIC BINARY MATROIDS 97 The combination of the three graphs G3, G4 and G6 is more complicated. The general rule is as follows: first combine the graphs corresponding to U, then combine those corresponding to V, and then unite the two resulting graphs. So in the case under consideration we combine G3 and G4, with elimination of b, to produce a graph G' (Figure 5). Direct combination of G' and Gb is impossible. We appeal however to the following well-known rule. Let 77 be a part of a graph G joined to the rest only at two vertices x and y. Let L be formed from G by reversing 77. This means that the edges of 77 incident with x(y) in G are those incident with yix) in L, and that all the other incidence relations are unchanged. Then the cuts of G and L are the same and therefore their bond-matroids are identical. Applying this rule to G' we obtain the graph G" of Figure 6. Its bond-matroid is represented by the submatrix of which is the union of 3 and 4. We can now combine G" and Gb, with elimination of b in Gs and a in G", to produce the graph Gi of Figure 7 whose bond-matroid is M. The existence of a reversal in G' making the edges of F incident with a common vertex is not fortuitous. Such a reversal, or sequence of reversals, can always be found when F has no overlapping bridges [4, (8.4)]. References. W. T. Tutte, A class of Abelian groups, Cañad. J. Math. vol. 8 (956) pp ; A homotopy theorem for matroids, I, Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. vol. 88 (958) pp , A homotopy theorem for matroids, II, Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. vol. 88 (958) pp , Matroids and graphs, Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. vol. 9 (959) pp H. Whitney, The abstract properties of linear dependence, Amer. J. Math. vol. 57 (935) pp L. Auslander and H. M. Trent, Incidence matrices and linear graphs, J. Math. Mech. vol. 8 (959) pp University of Toronto

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