### Tutte's Twist Operation on Cubic Graphs

There is an interesting book by W. T. Tutte called 'Graph Theory as I have known it' which is a cross between a normal mathematical text and a biography. So it's a description of the areas he was interested in, and his theorems. One thing that interested me was the use of a 'twist' operation on cubic graphs like so:

Where for the edge between vertices x and y labelled 'A' we reconnect the surrounding edges to form the arrangement on the right hand side. So detach edge D from y and connect it to x, and vice versa with edge C. The lower part of the picture shows what happens for a loop-edge - it transforms to a multi-edge.

This operation is used on a family of 'base' graphs looking like this:

with the first in the list is a vertexless loop graph - that is, it has no vertices and a single edge. From these base graphs, the twist operation can form any cubic graph. Note that all of Un are cubic with 2n vertices.

For example, from U3 we can get to both of the (simple) graphs with 6 vertices by the following sequence:

In this diagram, the twist is being applied to the red edge, then the blue, then the green, etc. The final step converts the prism (G6) to K3,3 (G7) while the other steps involve non-simple graphs with loops and multiple edges.

One of Tutte's uses for these transformations was to show that the number of 1-factors (perfect matching) J of a graph can be calculated by J(G) + J(GA) = J(H) + J(HA) where GA is a graph with the edge A deleted. So, starting with a base graph U - which has J = 1 except for U0 where J = 2. Then use that value to determine the number of 1-factors in the next graph in the sequence, and so on.

It does make me wonder if there is a way to generate cubic graphs from these base examples, by these twists. From a few simple examples it is clear that there would be a lot of redundancy at the leaves of the generated tree, but possibly that could be handled with canonical path augmentation in some way.

mario bianchi said…
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### How many isomers of C4H11N are there?

One of the most popular queries that lands people at this blog is about the isomers of C4H11N - which I suspect may be some kind of organic chemistry question on student homework. In any case, this post will describe how to find all members of a small space like this by hand rather than using software.

Firstly, lets connect all the hydrogens to the heavy atoms (C and N, in this case). For example:

Now eleven hydrogens can be distributed among these five heavy atoms in various ways. In fact this is the problem of partitioning a number into a list of other numbers which I've talked about before. These partitions and (possible) fragment lists are shown here:

One thing to notice is that all partitions have to have 5 parts - even if one of those parts is 0. That's not strictly a partition anymore, but never mind. The other important point is that some of the partitions lead to multiple fragment lists - [3, 3, 2, 2, 1] could have a CH+NH2 or an NH+CH2.

The final step is to connect u…

### Havel-Hakimi Algorithm for Generating Graphs from Degree Sequences

A degree sequence is an ordered list of degrees for the vertices of a graph. For example, here are some graphs and their degree sequences:

Clearly, each graph has only one degree sequence, but the reverse is not true - one degree sequence can correspond to many graphs. Finally, an ordered sequence of numbers (d1 >= d2 >= ... >= dn > 0) may not be the degree sequence of a graph - in other words, it is not graphical.

The Havel-Hakimi (HH) theorem gives us a way to test a degree sequence to see if it is graphical or not. As a side-effect, a graph is produced that realises the sequence. Note that it only produces one graph, not all of them. It proceeds by attaching the first vertex of highest degree to the next set of high-degree vertices. If there are none left to attach to, it has either used up all the sequence to produce a graph, or the sequence was not graphical.

The image above shows the HH algorithm at work on the sequence [3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1]. Unfortunately, this produce…

### Generating Trees

Tree generation is a well known (and solved!) problem in computer science. On the other hand, it's pretty important for various problems - in my case, making tree-like fusanes. I'll describe here the slightly tortuous route I took to make trees.

Firstly, there is a famous theorem due to Cayley that the number of (labelled) trees on n vertices is nn - 2 which can be proved by using Prüfer sequences. That's all very well, you might well say - but what does all this mean?

Well, it's not all that important, since there is a fundamental problem with this approach : the difference between a labelled tree and an unlabelled tree. There are many more labeled trees than unlabeled :

There is only one unlabeled tree on 3 vertices, but 3 labeled ones
this is easy to check using the two OEIS sequences for this : A000272 (labeled) and A000055 (unlabeled). For n ranging from 3 to 8 we have [3, 16, 125, 1296, 16807, 262144] labeled trees and [1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 23] unlabeled ones. Only 23 …