# On-line Ramsey numbers

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1 On-line Ramsey numbers David Conlon Abstract Consider the following game between two players, Builder and Painter Builder draws edges one at a time and Painter colours them, in either red or blue, as each appears Builder s aim is to force Painter to draw a monochromatic copy of a fixed graph G The minimum number of edges which Builder must draw, regardless of Painter s strategy, in order to guarantee that this happens is known as the on-line Ramsey number r(g of G Our main result, relating to the conjecture that r(k t = o( ( r(t, is that there exists a constant c > 1 such that ( r(t r(k t c t for infinitely many values of t We also prove a more specific upper bound for this number, showing that there exists a constant c such that r(k t t c log 4 t Finally, we prove a new upper bound for the on-line Ramsey number of the complete bipartite graph K t,t 1 Introduction Given a graph G, the Ramsey number r(g of G is the smallest number n such that, in any twocolouring of the edges of the complete graph K n, there is guaranteed to be a monochromatic copy of G In the specific case where G = K t, we write r(t for the Ramsey number The size Ramsey number ˆr(G, introduced by Erdős, Faudree, Rousseau and Schelp [8], is the smallest number m such that there exists a graph H with m edges which is Ramsey with respect to G, that is, no matter how one colours the edges of H in two colours, red and blue say, one will always find a monochromatic copy of G For cliques, the size Ramsey number, written simply as ˆr(t, is just the same as the number of edges in the complete graph on r(t vertices [8], that is ( r(t ˆr(t =, a result attributed to Chvátal More surprisingly, Beck proved [1] that there exists a constant c such that ˆr(P n cn, St John s College, Cambridge, CB 1TP, United Kingdom Supported by a Junior Research Fellowship at St John s College, Cambridge 1

2 where P n is the path with n vertices Similar results have been proven when G is a cycle with n vertices [14] and when G is a tree with n vertices and a fixed maximum degree [11] It is only recently that Kohayakawa, Rödl, Szemerédi and Schacht [17] have managed to extend Beck s result to all graphs of bounded maximum degree Their result states that for every natural number there exists a constant c such that the size Ramsey number of any graph H with n vertices and maximum degree satisfies ˆr(H cn 1/ log 1/ n Even though this result is highly impressive, a very large gap still remains in this problem, the best lower bound, due to Rödl and Szemerédi [4], only being that there exists a graph on n vertices with maximum degree 3 for which ˆr(H cn log 1/60 n This does, however, rule out the possibility, raised by Beck and Erdős (see [5], that for every there exists a constant c such that, for any graph H with n vertices and maximum degree, ˆr(H cn An on-line variant of the size Ramsey number was introduced independently by Beck [] and Kurek and Ruciński [19] It is best described in terms of a game between two players, known as Builder and Painter Builder draws a series of edges and, as each edge appears, Painter colours it, in either red or blue Builder s goal is to force Painter to draw a monochromatic copy of a fixed graph G The least number of edges which Builder must draw in order to force Painter, regardless of their strategy, to draw such a monochromatic copy of G is known as the size Ramsey number r(g of G As usual, r(t is the same as r(k t The basic conjecture in the field, attributed by Kurek and Ruciński [19] to Rödl and reiterated by several others [10, 1, 13, 16, 3], is to show that r(t lim t ˆr(t = 0, that is, r(t = o( ( r(t Our main result approaches this conjecture by showing that there is a r(t subsequence {t 1, t, } of the integers such that lim i i ˆr(t i = 0 In fact, we do even better, showing that there are infinitely many values of t for which the on-line Ramsey number is exponentially smaller than the size Ramsey number Theorem 11 There exists a constant c > 1 such that, for infinitely many t, ( r(t r(t c t We will also prove a more specific bound for the on-line Ramsey number of the complete graph, bringing it in line with the recent bound for diagonal Ramsey numbers due to the author [7] The former bound, due to Pra lat [3], was r(t c 4t t Theorem 1 There exists a constant c such that r(t t c log 4 t Finally, we consider the on-line Ramsey number of complete bipartite graphs For the size Ramsey number of K t,t, the bounds [0, 8, 9] are surprisingly close, being 1 60 t t < ˆr(K t,t < 3 t3 t Nevertheless, an on-line Builder can force Painter to draw a monochromatic K t,t even sooner

3 Theorem 13 There exists a constant c such that r(k t,t c t t 5/ log 1/ t Throughout the paper, we have, for the sake of presentation, systematically omitted floor and ceiling signs We have also made no serious attempt to optimise any of the constants in the statements and proofs In particular, the constant c that arises in our proof of Theorem 11 is certainly not optimal, but we felt that any serious attempt to optimise it would serve only to mask the main ideas Complete graphs It is natural to expect that the on-line Ramsey number of almost every graph G is decidedly smaller than its size Ramsey number However, while it has been proved [19] that r(s, t = o( ( r(s,t as t and s remains fixed, a similar result is not yet known for the diagonal Ramsey number r(t In this section we make some progress in this direction by proving that there is a subsequence {t 1, t, } of the integers for which r(t i lim i ˆr(t i = 0 The reason this result only works for a subsequence is that in the course of the proof we need a result of the form r(t + 1 c > 1 r(t Unfortunately, though such a result is almost certainly true, it seems incredibly difficult to prove We can, however, exploit the fact that it is true on average to prove our theorem Theorem 1 For infinitely many t, ( r(t r(t 1001 t Proof Let α = 001 Consider the following strategy To begin, Builder draws n 1 edges emanating from a single vertex v 1 Painter must paint at least (n 1/ of these the same colour Let V 1 be the neighborhood of v 1 in that colour We also define a string s in terms of the colours chosen We initialise this string by writing s = R if the majority colour was red and s = B if it were blue Suppose now that we are looking at a set V i We choose any given vertex v i+1 and draw all the neighbours of v i+1 within V i If, in the string s, there are more Rs than Bs, we choose V i+1 to be the neighborhood of v i+1 in red if V i+1 (1 α( V i 1 and the neighborhood in blue otherwise Similarly, if there are more blues than reds, one chooses V i+1 to be the neighborhood of v i+1 in blue if and only if V i+1 (1 α( V i 1 If the number of reds and blues are the same, then we follow whichever has more neighbours The string s then has whichever colour we followed appended to it If, for example, our string were a 1 a i, with each a j = R or B, and we followed red, the new string would be a 1 a i R Let µ = 099 and ν = 001 The process stops when the string s contains either µt Rs, µt Bs or νt Rs and νt Bs Suppose, at that stage, that we have chosen m vertices and m neighborhoods Builder s strategy now is to fill in a complete subgraph of V m of size p equal to the maximum of r((1 µt, t and r((1 νt It is easy to see that Painter will be forced to draw a complete graph in one colour 3

4 or the other Suppose, for example, that our string contains µt blues Since p r((1 µt, t, V m contains either a red clique of size t, in which case we re done, or a blue clique of size (1 µt This latter clique may be appended to the µt vertices which correspond to B in the string to form a blue clique of size t The other cases follow similarly We need now to estimate the number of edges that Builder has to draw In order to guarantee that the process works, we need to start with an n which will guarantee that V m p If we made the most expensive choice at each point as we were choosing the v i, we may have to choose n to be as large as (/α νt (1 α µt p Since m (µ + νt, it is then elementary to see that the number of edges Builder draws is at most mn + ( p ( p t(/α νt (1 α t p + To estimate the value of this expression, we must first understand something about p By the choice of µ, ( ( 101t 101et 001t r((1 µt, t = r(001t, t t 001t 106 t 15 t r(t, since r(t t On the other hand, there must be infinitely many values t for which r((1 νt = r(099t 1001 t r(t Suppose otherwise Then there exists t 0 such that, for all t t 0, By telescoping, this would imply that r(t r(099t 1001t r(099 A t 0 (1001 ( A t 0 r(t 0 ( (099 A t 0 r(t 0 If we rewrite this equation, with t = 099 A t 0 and C = r(t 0, we see that this would imply r(t C( t C(1106 t, which is plainly a contradiction for large t We may therefore conclude that p 1001 t r(t infinitely often At such values of t we have that the number of edges Builder must draw to force Painter to draw a monochromatic K t is less than t(/α νt (1 α t p + ( p t(00 001t (099 t p + ( p t(1066 t p + ( r(t 1001 t, ( p r(t 1 p + 4 ( p provided that t is sufficiently large 4

5 Let r q (t be the q-colour on-line Ramsey number of K t That is, Builder and Painter play the usual game, but Painter is now allowed to use q colours It is worth noting that, for small q, the same method can be used to give some results on r q (t, but it does not allow one to show unreservedly that r q (t c t( r q(t, where rq (t is the ordinary q-colour Ramsey number of K t The following theorem serves as an illustration, though we stress that the condition on r 3 (t is not best possible Theorem There exists a constant c such that, for infinitely many t, if r 3 (t 4 t then ( r 3 (t c t r3 (t Having looked at the ratio of the on-line Ramsey number to the size Ramsey number, we now turn our attention to proving a more specific bound on r(t If one looks at the standard proof of Ramsey s theorem, it is easy to prove a bound of the form r(t 4 t By being more careful with this approach 3 Pra lat proved [3] that 8 4 t π t Applying the following recent improvement, due to the author [7], on the upper bound for classical Ramsey numbers, we can improve Pra lat s bound much further Theorem 3 There exists a constant C such that, for 1 l k l, ( r(k, l k C log k log log k k + l k Note that the numbers 1 constants and are not important and may be replaced by any other fixed positive Theorem 4 There exists a constant c such that r(t t c log 4 t Proof We follow the usual strategy To begin, choose a vertex v 1 and draw n 1 edges emanating from it This vertex must have at least (n 1/ neighbours in (at least one of red or blue We fix such a colour, calling it C 1 Let V 1 be the vertex set consisting of the neighbours of v 1 in C 1 Now, given V i, choose any element v i+1 of V i and draw all the edges connecting v i+1 to other vertices in V i v i+1 must have at least ( V i 1/ neighbours in colour C i, say We let V i+1 be the set of neighbours of v i+1 in C i We stop the process after m = 3 t steps Let p be the maximum value of r(t a, t b taken over all a and b with a+b = 3 t We claim that if V m p then Builder has a winning strategy To see this, suppose that a of the C i are red and b of them are blue Since V m r(t a, t b, Builder may draw a complete subgraph in V m of size r(t a, t b Once Painter has coloured this, V m must contain either a red K t a or a blue K t b Connecting these back to either the a vertices whose associated colour is red or the b vertices whose associated colour is blue would imply a monochromatic K t Choosing n = 3t/ p, V m will necessarily have the required size V m p How many edges does Builder draw in this process? For each vertex v i, 1 i m, he draws at most n edges, and within V m he draws at most ( p edges Therefore, m ( p r(t n + mn + p t 3t/+1 p + p 5

6 We now need a bound for p For the second part of this sum it is sufficient to note that, for all a and b with a + b = 3 t, r(t a, t b (t a+(t b t (a+b t/ For the first part we must use Theorem 3 When 1 (t b t a (t b, we must have that t a t/8 Otherwise, we would have t b t/4 and therefore a + b 13t/8 Therefore, by Theorem 3, if 1 (t b t a (t b, there exists c such that c r(t a, t b t log ( t (a + b t a c t log t (a+b = t c log t/ If, on the other hand, t a 1 (t b (or, by symmetry, t b 1 (t a, then ( t b t (a + b r(t a, t b It therefore follows that = t a = ( (t a + 3(t b/4 t a (t b/4 (t a+3(t b/4 ( 1 + (t b/4 (t a+3(t b/4 (5/3 (t b/4 t a t b i + 1 ( 1 + ( 1 + t a 3(t b/4 c t log t (a+b = t c log t/ r(t t 3t/+1 p + p c t log +1 4 t + t The result follows from a slight adjustment of the constant c t a t b i + 1 For r q (t, an obvious upper bound is q qt, though this can be improved to c q t (q 1/ q qt As things stand, this agrees, up to the constant, with the best known bound for r q (t However, using the method above, one can prove that any improvement on the bound for r q (t implies a corresponding improvement for r q (t Theorem 5 Let q be an integer Suppose that f : N R is a function such that if k 1 k k q 1 k 1, then r(k 1, k,, k q f(k 1 q k 1+k + +k q Then there exists a constant c > 0 such that r q (t f(ctq qt The one extra component needed in the proof is the following formula, which generalises the standard Erdős-Szekeres bound for two-colour Ramsey numbers by using multinomial coefficients ( k1 + k + + k q r(k 1, k,, k q k 1, k,, k q Note that Theorem 4 is the special case of Theorem 5 where q = and f(x = x C 6 log x log log x

7 3 Complete bipartite graphs The method we will use in this section is closely related to that used by the author [6] in improving the bipartite Ramsey number of K t,t from t t to, roughly, t It involves a two-step strategy for Builder In the first step, using around t edges, he forces Painter to draw a complete monochromatic, say blue, bipartite graph with t vertices on one side and t on the other In the second step Builder draws all the edges from this set U of size t to a new set of size t t This forces Painter to draw either a red K t,t, in which case we are done, or a complete bipartite graph in blue with a set U U of t vertices on one side and vertices on the other In the latter case, we may add these vertices to the t already joined to U to form a blue K t,t This then yields the result In order to prove our results we will need to make repeated use of the following fundamental result about bipartite graphs, due essentially to Kővári, Sós and Turán [18] Lemma 31 Let G be a bipartite graph with parts A and B and density at least ɛ Let m = A and n = B Then, provided that m ɛ 1 r and n ɛ r s, the graph contains a complete bipartite subgraph with r vertices from A and s vertices from B Proof Suppose otherwise If there are no complete subgraphs having r vertices in A and s in B, there can be at most ( A r s pairs (A, v, where A A has size r and every element in A is joined to v On the other hand, the number of such pairs is equal to the sum ( d(v v B r By convexity, ( d(v r v B 1 n( n = n (ɛmr r! v B d(v r r 1 ( ɛm n r ( 1 i ɛm Now, since r ɛm 1 and, for x 1, e x 1 x, r 1 ( 1 i ɛm r 1 e i/ɛm e r /ɛm 1 Therefore, comparing our two different ways of counting the number of pairs (A, v, we find that n (ɛm r ( m s mr r! r r! s This implies that a contradiction n ɛ r s, As one might expect, given a natural number q and a graph G, r q (G is the q-colour on-line Ramsey number of G Since our result extends easily to the q-colour case, we give the proof in that level of generality 7

8 Theorem 3 where log is taken to the base q r q (K t,t 48q t+ t 3 1/q log 1/q t, Proof Builder begins by building a complete bipartite graph between sets M and N, M having size 6q t+1 and N having size qt Suppose, without loss of generality, that after Painter has coloured these edges the blue graph has density at least 1/q By Lemma 31 with A = N, B = M, ɛ = 1/q, r = t and s = 3qt, since M 6q t+1 = q t (3qt, there must be a complete blue bipartite graph H with the part in M having size 3qt and that in N having size t Builder now passes to the second phase, drawing a complete bipartite graph between the vertices M of H that are in M and a newly created vertex set N of size 1q t t 1 1/q log 1/q t Let ɛ = (q 1( log q t Once Painter has coloured all the edges either the blue graph will have density ɛ q 1 Using the at least 1 q ɛ or the graph in some other colour, red say, will have density at least 1 q + facts that qɛ 1 for all t and, for x 1, (1 x x + x e x + x, we note that ( 1 t q ɛ q t (1 qɛ t q t ( e qɛ + (qɛ t ( ( t (q 1/qt t = q t + t ( t 1 1/q ( t q t 1 + t ( t 1 1/q 3q t ( t In the last line we used that 1 + t 3 Similarly, ( 1 q + ɛ q 1 t ( 1/q 3q t t If now the density of the blue edges is greater than 1 q ɛ, an application of Lemma 31 with A = M, B = N, r = t and s = tells us that there is a complete blue bipartite graph with t vertices in M and vertices in N Otherwise we would have either M 3qt or ( 1 t N q ɛ 1q t t 1 1/q log 1/q t Let M be the vertices of this complete bipartite graph which lie in M By construction, M = t Moreover, since the vertices in M have t joint neighbours in N and joint neighbours in N, we have a blue K t,t 8

9 If, on the other hand, one of the other colours, red say, has density greater than 1 q ɛ q 1, another application of Lemma 31 would imply that if the red bipartite graph between M and N did not contain a complete K t,t, then The theorem now follows since ( 1 N q ɛ t t 6q t t 1 1/q log 1/q t q 1 r q (K t,t M N + M N (6q t+1 (qt + (3qt (1q t t 1 1/q log 1/q t 1q t+ t + 36q t+1 t 3 1/q log 1/q t 48q t+ t 3 1/q log 1/q t 4 Conclusion Naturally, the most interesting question in the field is still to show that r(t lim t ˆr(t = 0, but, given that this is probably extremely difficult, what other questions might one consider? One possibility is to look at graphs of bounded maximum degree The simplest case, that of determining the on-line Ramsey number of paths, has already been considered by Grytczuk, Kierstead, and Pra lat [13], who proved that r(p n 4n 7 This is a much sharper result than what is known for the ordinary size Ramsey number, where the best known constant is still in the hundreds [3] Extensive computational work done by Pra lat [13, 1, ] suggests that the constant may be even smaller again Indeed, for 4 n 9, the bound 5 n 5 is correct It would be very interesting to know whether such a bound holds generally For graphs of bounded maximum degree, the best known upper bound is the same as the recent upper bound for the size Ramsey number, that is, r(t cn 1/ log 1/ n On the other hand, we know almost nothing about the lower bound Even the following question remains open Problem 41 Given a natural number, does there exist a constant c such that, if H is a graph on n vertices with maximum degree, r(g cn? Another direction one can take is to consider the on-line game under the additional restriction that Builder can only draw graphs contained within a given (monotone decreasing class The most impressive theorem in this direction, proved by Kierstead, Grytczuk, Ha luszczak and Konjevod over two papers [1, 16], is that Builder may restrict to graphs of chromatic number at most t and still 9

10 force Painter to draw a monochromatic K t The proof of this result is quite intricate and relies upon the analysis of an auxiliary Ramsey game played on hypergraphs One beautiful question of this variety, due to Butterfield, Grauman, Kinnersley, Milans, Stocker and West [4], is to determine whether, given a natural number, there exists d( such that Builder can force Painter to draw a monochromatic copy of any graph with maximum degree by drawing only graphs of maximum degree at most d( Acknowledgements I would like to thank Jacob Fox for reading carefully through an earlier version of this paper and making several helpful suggestions References [1] J Beck, On size Ramsey number of paths, trees and cycles I, J Graph Theory 7 (1983, [] J Beck, Achievement games and the probabilistic method, Combinatorics, Paul Erdős is Eighty, Bolyai Soc Math Stud 1 (1993, [3] B Bollobás, Random graphs, Second Edition, Cambridge studies in advanced mathematics, vol 73, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, (001 [4] J Buttefield, T Grauman, B Kinnersley, K Milans, C Stocker and D West, On-line Ramsey theory for bounded degree graphs, in preparation [5] F Chung and R Graham, Erdős on graphs His Legacy of Unsolved Problems, A K Peters, Ltd, Wellesley, MA, (1998 [6] D Conlon, A new upper bound for the bipartite Ramsey problem, J Graph Theory 58 (008, [7] D Conlon, A new upper bound for the diagonal Ramsey problem, to appear in Annals of Math [8] P Erdős, RJ Faudree, CC Rousseau, and RH Schelp, The size Ramsey number, Period Math Hungar 9 (1978, [9] P Erdős and CC Rousseau, The size Ramsey number of a complete bipartite graph, Discrete Math 113 (1993, 59 6 [10] E Friedgut, Y Kohayakawa, V Rödl, A Ruciński, and P Tetali, Ramsey games against a onearmed bandit, Combin Prob Comp 1 (003, [11] J Friedman and N Pippenger, Expanding graphs contain all small trees, Combinatorica 7 (1987, [1] JA Grytczuk, M Ha luszczak, and HA Kierstead, On-line Ramsey Theory, Electronic Journal of Combinatorics 11 (004, no 1, Research Paper 60, 10 pp [13] JA Grytczuk, HA Kierstead, and P Pra lat, On-line Ramsey Numbers for Paths and Stars, Discrete Math Theor Comp Science 10:3 (008, [14] PE Haxell, Y Kohayakawa and T Luczak, The induced size-ramsey number of cycles, Combin Prob Comp 4 (1995,

11 [15] Xin Ke, The size Ramsey number of trees with bounded degree, Random Struct Algorithms 4 (1993, [16] HA Kierstead and G Konjevod, Coloring number and on-line Ramsey theory for graphs and hypergraphs, Combinatorica, accepted [17] Y Kohayakawa, V Rödl, M Schacht and E Szemerédi, Sparse partition universal graphs for graphs of bounded degree, submitted [18] T Kővári, VT Sós and P Turán, On a problem of K Zarankiewicz, Colloq Math 3 (1954, [19] A Kurek and A Ruciński, Two variants of the size Ramsey number, Discuss Math Graph Theory 5 (005, [0] J Nešetřil and V Rödl, The structure of critical graphs, Acta Math Acad Sci Hungar 3 ( [1] P Pra lat, A note on small on-line Ramsey numbers for paths and their generalization, Australasian Journal of Combinatorics 40 (008, 7-36 [] P Pra lat, A note on off-diagonal small on-line Ramsey numbers for paths, Ars Combinatoria 10pp, accepted [3] P Pra lat, R(3; 4 = 17, Electronic Journal of Combinatorics 15 (008, no 1, Research Paper 67, 13pp [4] V Rödl and E Szemerédi, On size Ramsey numbers of graphs with bounded maximum degree, Combinatorica 0 (000,

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