Explain graph coloring with backtracking.

Subject: Analysis Of Algorithm

Topic: Backtracking

Difficulty: Medium

1 Answer

Graph coloring is a special case of graph labeling; it is an assignment of labels traditionally called "colors" to elements of a graph subject to certain constraints. In its simplest form, it is a way of coloring the vertices of a graph such that no two adjacent vertices share the same color; this is called a vertex coloring. Similarly, an edge coloring assigns a color to each edge so that no two adjacent edges share the same color, and a face coloring of a planar graph assigns a color to each face or region so that no two faces that share a boundary have the same color.

Vertex coloring is the starting point of the subject, and other coloring problems can be transformed into a vertex version. For example, an edge coloring of a graph is just a vertex coloring of its line graph, and a face coloring of a plane graph is just a vertex coloring of its dual. However, non-vertex coloring problems are often stated and studied as is. That is partly for perspective, and partly because some problems are best studied in non-vertex form, as for instance is edge coloring.

The convention of using colors originates from coloring the countries of a map, where each face is literally colored. This was generalized to coloring the faces of a graph embedded in the plane. By planar duality it became coloring the vertices, and in this form it generalizes to all graphs. In mathematical and computer representations, it is typical to use the first few positive or nonnegative integers as the "colors". In general, one can use any finite set as the "color set". The nature of the coloring problem depends on the number of colors but not on what they are.

While graph coloring, the constraints that are set on the graph are colors, order of coloring, the way of assigning color, etc. A coloring is given to a vertex or a particular region. Thus, the vertices or regions having same colors form independent sets.

Vertex Coloring Vertex coloring is an assignment of colors to the vertices of a graph ‘G’ such that no two adjacent vertices have the same color. Simply put, no two vertices of an edge should be of the same color.

Chromatic Number The minimum number of colors required for vertex coloring of graph ‘G’ is called as the chromatic number of G, denoted by X(G).

χ(G) = 1 if and only if 'G' is a null graph. If 'G' is not a null graph, then χ(G) ≥ 2

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