# Generalizing the Ramsey Problem through Diameter

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1 Generalizing the Ramsey Problem through Diameter Dhruv Mubayi Submitted: January 8, 001; Accepted: November 13, 001. MR Subject Classifications: 05C1, 05C15, 05C35, 05C55 Abstract Given a graph G and positive integers d, k, let fd k (G) be the maximum t such that every k-coloring of E(G) yields a monochromatic subgraph with diameter at most d on at least t vertices. Determining f1 k(k n) is equivalent to determining classical Ramsey numbers for multicolorings. Our results include determining f k d (K a,b) within 1 for all d, k, a, b for d 4, f 3 d (K n) = n/ + 1 or n/ depending on whether n (mod 4) or not f k 3 (K n) > n k 1+1/k The third result is almost sharp, since a construction due to Calkin implies that f3 k(k n) n k 1 + k 1 when k 1 is a prime power. The asymptotics for f d k(k n) remain open when d = k = 3 and when d 3, k 4 are fixed. 1 Introduction The Ramsey problem for multicolorings asks for the minimum n such that every k-coloring of the edges of K n yields a monochromatic K p. This problem has been generalized in many ways (see, e.g., [, 6, 7, 9, 1, 13, 14]). We begin with the following generalization due to Paul Erdős [8] (see also [11]): Problem 1 What is the maximum t with the property that every k-coloring of E(K n ) yields a monochromatic subgraph of diameter at most two on at least t vertices? A related problem is investigated in [14], where the existence of the Ramsey number is proven when the host graph is not necessarily a clique. Call a subgraph of diameter at most d a d-subgraph. Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, 851 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL , Keywords: diameter, generalized ramsey theory the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 1

2 Theorem (Tonoyan [14]) Let D, k 1, d D, n. Then there is a smallest integer t = R D,k (n, d) such that every graph G with diameter D on at least t vertices has the following property: every k-coloring of E(G) yields a monochromatic d-subgraph on at least n vertices. We study a problem closely related to Tonoyan s result that also generalizes Problem 1 to larger diameter. Definition 3 Let G be a graph and d, k be positive integers. Then fd k (G) is the maximum t with the property that every k-coloring of E(G) yields a monochromatic d-subgraph on at least t vertices. The asymptotics for f k d (G) when G = K n and d = (Erdős problem) were determined in [10]. Theorem 4 (Fowler [10]) f (K n ) = 3n/4 and if k 3, then f k (K n ) n/k as n. In this paper, we study fd k (G) when G is a complete graph or a complete bipartite graph. In the latter case, we determine its value within 1. Theorem 5 (Section 3) Let k, a, b. Then f k (K a,b ) = 1 + max{a, b}/k, and for d 3, ( ) 1 ab a b a b + fd k (K a,b ) +. ab k k k k Determining f k d (K n) (for d 3) seems more difficult. We succeed in doing this only when d > k = 3. Theorem 6 (Section 4) Let d 4. Then { fd 3 n/ + 1 n (mod 4) (K n ) = n/ otherwise When d = 3 we are able to obtain bounds for f k d (K n). Theorem 7 (Section 5) Let k. Then f k 3 (K n ) > n/(k 1 + 1/k). In section 5 we also describe an unpublished construction of Calkin which implies that f k 3 (K n ) n/(k 1) + k 1 when k 1 is a prime power. This shows that the bound in Theorem 7 is not far off from being best possible. In section 6 we summarize the known results for f k d (K n). Our main tool for Theorems 5 and 7 is developed in Section. the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00

3 The Main Lemma In this section we prove a statement about 3-subgraphs in colorings of bipartite graphs. Although this is later used in the proofs of Theorems 5 and 7, we feel it is of independent interest. Suppose that G is a graph and c : E(G) [k] is a k-coloring of its edges. For each i [k] and x V (G), let N i (x) = {y N(x) : c(xy) = i} and d i (x) = N i (x). For uv E(G), let the weight of uv be w(uv) = d c(uv) (u) + d c(uv) (v). Lemma 8 Let G be a subgraph of K a,b with e edges and d 3. Then ( ) 1 e fd k e e e (G) e ak bk ak bk Proof: Suppose that K a,b has bipartition A, B with X = V (G) A, and Y = V (G) B. Let c : E(G) [k] be a k-coloring. Observe that an edge with weight w gives rise to a 3-subgraph on w vertices. We prove the stronger statement that G has an edge with weight at least ( 1 e + e ak e bk ). We obtain a lower bound on the sum of all the edge-weights. w(xy) w(uv) = uv E(G) x X i [k] y N i (x) = d i (x) + d i (y) x X i [k] y N i (x) = [d i (x)] + [d i (y)] x X i [k] y Y i [k] e e +, (1) ak bk where (1) follows from the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality applied to each double sum. Since there is an edge with weight at least as large as the average, we have ( ) 1 e fd k e e (G) + e ak bk ak + e e e + 1. bk ak bk A slight variation of the proof of Lemma 8 also yields the following more general result. Lemma 9 Suppose that G is a graph with n vertices and e edges. Let c : E(G) [k] be a k-coloring of E(G) such that every color class is triangle-free. Then G contains a monochromatic 3-subgraph on at least 4e/(nk) vertices. the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 3

4 3 Bipartite Graphs Proof of Theorem 5: Let c : E(K a,b ) [k] be a k-coloring. The lower bound for the case d = is obtained by considering a pair (v, i) for which d i (v) is maximized. The set v N i (v) induces a monochromatic -subgraph. The lower bound when d 3 follows from Lemma 8. For the upper bounds we provide the following constructions. Let K a,b have bipartition X = {x 1,..., x a } and Y = {y 1,..., y b }, and assume that a b. Partition X into k sets X 1,..., X k, each of size a/k or a/k, and partition Y into k sets Y 1,..., Y k, each of size b/k or b/k. Furthermore, let both these partitions be consecutive in the sense that X 1 = {x 1, x,..., x r }, X = {x r+1, x r+..., x r+s }, etc. Finally, for each nonnegative integer t, let Y i + t = {y l+t : y l Y i }, where subscripts are taken modulo b. When d = and j [k], let the j th color class be all edges between x i and Y j + (i 1) for each i [n]. Because K a,b is bipartite, the distance between a pair of nonadjacent vertices x X and y Y in the subgraph formed by the edges in color j is at least three. Thus a -subgraph of K a,b is a complete bipartite graph. For 1 i k, let α i be the smallest subscript of an element in Y i. Thus α i+1 α i = Y i since Y i = {y αi, y αi +1,..., y αi+1 1}. Fix l [k] and let H be a largest monochromatic complete bipartite graph in color l. Let A = V (H) X and B = V (H) Y. Let r be the smallest index such that x r A and let s be the largest index such that x s A. As N H (x r ) = {y αl +r 1, y αl +r,..., y αl+1 +r } and N H (x s ) = {y αl +s 1, y αl +s,..., y αl+1 +s }, we have N H (x r ) N H (x s ) = {y αl +s 1,..., y αl+1 +r }, where subscripts are taken modulo b. Consequently, V (H) {x r,..., x s } + {y αl +s 1,..., y αl+1 +r } = (s r + 1) + (α l+1 + r (α l + s 1) + 1) = 1 + α l+1 α l = 1 + Y l 1 + b/k. When d > and j [k], let the j th color class consist of the edges between X i and Y i 1+j (subscripts taken modulo k) for each i [k]. The maximum size of a connected monochromatic subgraph is max i,i { X i + Y i } = a/k + b/k. Recall that the bipartite Ramsey number for multicolorings b k (H) is the minimum n such that every k-coloring of E(K n,n ) yields a monochromatic copy of H. Analogous to the case with the classical Ramsey numbers, determining these numbers is hard. Chvátal [5], and Bieneke-Schwenk [3] proved that when H = K p,q, this number is at most (q 1)k p + O(k p 1 ), and some exact results for the case H = K,q were also obtained in [3]. It is worth noting that the function f k (K a,b ) seems fundamentally different (and much easier to determine) from the numbers b k (K p,q ), since we do not require our complete bipartite subgraphs to have a specified number of vertices in each partite set. the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 4

5 4 Diameter at least four In this section we consider f k d (K n). Since a 1-subgraph is a clique, the problem is hopeless if d = 1. The case d = was settled in [10], where nontrivial constructions were obtained that matched the trivial lower bounds asymptotically. We investigate the problem for larger d. We include the following slight strengthening of a well-known (and easy) fact for completeness (see problem.1.34 of [15]). Proposition 10 Every -coloring of E(K n ) yields a monochromatic spanning -subgraph or a monochromatic spanning 3-subgraph in each color. Thus in particular, f d (K n) = n for d 3. Proof: Suppose that the coloring uses red and blue. We may assume that both the red subgraph and the blue subgraph have diameter at least three. Thus there exist vertices r 1, r (respectively, b 1, b ) with the shortest red r 1, r -path (respectively, blue b 1, b -path) having length at least three. We will show that the blue subgraph has diameter at most three. Let u, v be arbitrary vertices in K n. If {u, v} {r 1, r } =, then the fact that there is no red r 1, r -path of length at most two guarantees a blue u, v-path of length at most two. We may therefore assume that {u, v} {r 1, r } =. At least one of ur 1, ur is blue, and at least one of vr 1, vr is blue. Together with the blue edge r 1 r, these three blue edges contain a u, v-path of length at most three. Since u and v are arbitrary, the blue subgraph has diameter at most three. Similarly, the vertices b 1, b can be used to show that the red subgraph also has diameter at most three. We now turn to the case when d, k 3. The following k-coloring of K n has the property that the largest connected monochromatic subgraph has order n/(k + 1) when k is odd and n/k when k is even. As we will see below, this is sharp when k = 3, but not for any other value of k when k 1 is a prime power [4]. This construction was suggested independently by Erdős. It uses the well-known fact that the edge-chromatic number of K n is n if n is odd and n 1 if n is even. Construction 11 When k is odd, partition V (K n ) into k + 1 sets V 1,..., V k+1, each of size n/(k + 1) or n/(k + 1). Contract each V i to a single vertex v i, and the edges between any pair V i, V j to a single edge v i v j to obtain K k+1. Let c : E(K k+1 ) [k] be a proper edge-coloring. Expand K k+1 back to the original K n, coloring every edge between V i and V j with c(v i v j ). Color all edges within each V i with color 1. Because c is a proper edge-coloring, a monochromatic connected graph G can have V (G) V i for at most two distinct indices i [k]. Thus V (G) n/(k +1). In the case n 1 (mod k), only one V i has size n/(k +1) and all the rest have size n/(k +1), so V (G) n/(k + 1) + n/(k + 1). When k is even, partition V (K n ) into k sets, color as described above with k 1 colors and change the color on any single edge to the kth color. the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 5

6 Proof of Theorem 6: For the upper bounds we use Construction 11. When n 0, 3 (mod 4), n/4 = n/. When n (mod 4), n/4 = n/ + 1. When n 1 (mod 4), the construction gives the improvement n/4 + n/4 which again equals the claimed bound n/. For the lower bound, consider a 3-coloring c : E(K n ) [3]. Pick any vertex v, and assume without loss of generality that max{d i (v)} = d 1 (v). Let N = v N 1 (v) and let N = ( w N N 1 (w)) N. The subgraph in color 1 induced by N N is a 4-subgraph, thus we are done unless N + N n/, which we may henceforth assume. Let M = V (K n ) N N. Observe that color 1 is forbidden on edges between N and M. Since M N (v) N 3 (v), we may assume without loss of generality that the set S = N (v) M satisfies S M / n/4. If every x N has the property that there is a y S with c(xy) =, then the subgraph in color induced by N S is a 4-subgraph with at least (n + )/3 + n/4 vertices, and we are done. We may therefore suppose that there is an x N such that c(xx ) = 3 for every x S. For i =, 3, let A i = {u N N (M S) : there is a u S with c(uu ) = i}. By the definitions of N, M, and A i, we have A A 3 N. We next strengthen this to A A 3 N N. If there is a vertex z N with c(zy) = 1 for every y S, then the subgraph in color 1 induced by S N {z} is a monochromatic 4-subgraph on at least n/4 + (n + )/3 + 1 n/ + 1 vertices. Therefore we assume the A A 3 N N. Because of v and x, each of the sets A i S induces a monochromatic 4-subgraph. Consequently, there is a monochromatic 4-subgraph of order at least S + max i { A i }. By the previous observations, this is at least S + A + A 3 M A A 3 + M N N M n M + = + n. We now improve this bound by one when n = 4l+. We obtain the improvement unless equality holds above, which forces M to be even, S = M /, and A A 3 = N N. Recall that N + N n/, which implies that M n/ = l + 1. Because M is even, we obtain M l + = n/ + 1. Since A A 3 = N N, every vertex in M S has no edge to S in color or 3. Thus all edges between S and M S are of color 1, and the complete bipartite graph B with parts S and M S is monochromatic. Because S = M /, both S and M S are nonempty. This implies that B is a monochromatic -subgraph with M n/ + 1 vertices. the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 6

7 5 Diameter three and infinity In this section we prove Theorem 7 and also present an unpublished construction of Calkin which improves the bounds given by Construction 11 when k 1 > 3 is a prime power. Proof of Theorem 7: Given a k-coloring c : E(K n ) [k], choose v V (K n ), and assume that d i (v) is maximized when i = 1. Consider the bipartite graph G with bipartition A = v N 1 (v) and B = V (K n ) A; set a = A. For x A and y B, let xy E(G) if c(xy) 1. Let = max w A N 1 (w) B. Then E(G) a(n a ). For any w A with N 1 (w) B =, the subgraph in color 1 induced by A N 1 (w) is a 3-subgraph with at least a + vertices. By definition, color 1 is absent in G and thus E(G) is (k 1)-colored. Lemma 8 applied to G yields a 3-subgraph on at least (n a )/(k 1) + a(n a )/((k 1)(n a)) vertices. Thus K n contains a 3-subgraph of order at least { ( a(n a ) 1 min max a +, a, k 1 a + 1 )}. n a a 1+(n 1)/k n a We let and a take on real values to obtain a lower bound on this minimum. Since one of these functions is increasing in and the other is decreasing in, the choice of that minimizes the maximum (for fixed a) is that for which the two quantities are equal. This choice is (n a)(n a(k 1)) =, kn a(k 1) and both functions become n /(kn a(k 1)). Since this is an increasing function for 1 + (n 1)/k a < kn/(k 1), and since we are assuming a n, the minimum is obtained at a = 1 + (n 1)/k. This yields a lower bound of kn /((k k + 1)n (k 1) ). Definition 1 For a positive integer k, let f k (G) be the maximum t with the property that every k-coloring of E(G) yields a monochromatic connected subgraph on at least t vertices. Clearly f k d (G) f k (G) for each d, since a d-subgraph is connected. Construction 11 and Theorem 6 therefore immediately yield f 3 (K n ) = n/ + 1 or n/ depending on whether n (mod 4) or not (see also exercise 14 of Chapter 6 of [1]). For larger k, however, the following unpublished construction due to Calkin improves Construction 11 Construction 13 (Calkin) Let q be a prime power and F be a finite field on q elements. We exhibit a q + 1-coloring of E(K q ). Let V (K q ) = F F. Color the edge (i, j)(i, j ) by the field element (j j)/(i i) if i i, and color all edges (i, j)(i, j ) with a single new color. This coloring is well-defined since (j j)/(i i) = (j j )/(i i ). the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 7

8 Lemma 14 Construction 13 produces a q + 1-coloring of E(K q ) such that the subgraph of any given color consists of q vertex disjoint copies of K q. Proof: This is certainly true of the color on edges of the form (i, j)(i, j ). Now fix a color l F. Let (x, y) (x, y ) if the edge (x, y)(x, y ) has color l. We will show that this relation is transitive. Suppose that (i, j) (i, j ) and (i, j ) (i, j ). Then Consequently, (j j)/(i i) = l = (j j )/(i i ). (j j) = (j j ) + (j j) = l(i i ) + l(i i) = l(i i) and therefore (i, j) (i, j ). Since this relation on V (K q ) V (K q ) is an equivalence relation, the edges in color l form vertex disjoint complete graphs. For fixed i, j, l, there are exactly q 1 distinct (x, y) (i, j) for which (x, y) (i, j), because x i uniquely determines y. This completes the proof. Lemma 14 together with Theorem 5 allows us to easily obtain good bounds for f k (K n ). The author believes that the following theorem was also proved independently by Calkin. Our proof of the lower bound given below uses Theorem 5. Theorem 15 Let k 1 be a prime power. Then n/(k 1) f k (K n ) n/(k 1)+k 1. Proof: For the upper bound we use the idea of Construction 13. Let F be a finite field of q = k 1 elements. Partition V (K n ) into (k 1) sets V i,j of size n/(k 1) or n/(k 1), where i, j F. Color all edges between V i,j and V i,j by the field element (j j)/(i i) if i i, and by a new color if i = i. Color all edges within each V i,j by a single color in F. Lemma 14 implies that the order of the largest monochromatic connected subgraph is at most n/(k 1) (k 1) n/(k 1) + k 1. For the lower bound, consider a k-coloring of E(K n ). We may assume that the subgraph H in some color l is not a connected spanning subgraph. This yields a partition X Y of V (K n ) such that no edge between X and Y has color l (let X be a component of H). The bipartite graph B formed by the X, Y edges is colored with k 1 colors. Applying Theorem 5 to B yields a 3-subgraph of order at least X /(k 1)+ Y /(k 1) = n/(k 1). the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 8

9 6 Table of Results Table of Results for f k d (K n) k d 1 Equivalent to classical Ramsey numbers 3n, [10] n 4 k, [10] n + 1, n 3 +, n k 1 + k 1, k 1 prime 3 n, Construction 11 Construction 13 power, Construction 13 4 Proposition 10 > 3n 7 n or, Theorem 7 > 4n 13, Theorem 7 > n k 1 + 1/k, Theorem 7 n + 1 n 3 + 3, n 4 + 4,. Construction 11 Construction 13 Construction 13 Theorem 6 7 Acknowledgments The author thanks Tom Fowler for informing him about [10], and an anonymous referee for informing him about [4]. Thanks also to Annette Rohrs for help with typesetting the article. References [1] B. Bollobás, Modern Graph Theory, Springer-Verlag (1998). [] S. Burr, P. Erdős, Generalizations of a Ramsey-theoretic result of Chvátal, J. Graph Theory 7 (1983), no. 1, [3] L. W. Beineke, A. J. Schwenk, On a bipartite form of the Ramsey problem, Proceedings of the Fifth British Combinatorial Conference (Univ. Aberdeen, Aberdeen, 1975), pp. 17. Congressus Numerantium, No. XV, Utilitas Math., Winnipeg, Man., [4] N. Calkin, unpublished. the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 9

10 [5] V. Chvátal, On finite polarized partition relations, Canad. Math. Bul., 1, (1969), [6] M. K. Chung, C. L. Liu, A generalization of Ramsey theory for graphs, Discrete Math. 1 (1978), no., [7] G. Chen, R. H. Schelp, Ramsey problems with bounded degree spread, Combin. Probab. Comput. (1993), no. 3, [8] P. Erdős, personal communication with T. Fowler. [9] P. Erdős, A. Hajnal, J. Pach, On a metric generalization of Ramsey s theorem, Israel J. Math. 10 (1997), [10] T. Fowler, Finding large monochromatic diameter two subgraphs, to appear. [11] A. Gyárfás, Fruit salad, Electron. J. Combin. 4 (1997), no. 1, Research Paper 8, 8 pp. (electronic). [1] M. S. Jacobson, On a generalization of Ramsey theory, Discrete Math. 38 (198), no. -3, [13] J. Ne set ril, V. Rödl A structural generalization of the Ramsey theorem, Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 83 (1977), no. 1, [14] R. N. Tonoyan, An analogue of Ramsey s theorem, Applied mathematics, No. 1 (Russian), 61 66, 9 93, Erevan. Univ., Erevan, [15] D. B. West, Introduction to Graph Theory, Prentice Hall, Inc., (1996). the electronic journal of combinatorics 9 (00), #R00 10

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