The Colin de Verdière number and sphere representations of a graph

Andrew Kotlov, László Lovász, Santosh Vempala

Research output: Article

23 Citations (Scopus)


Colin de Verdière introduced an interesting linear algebraic invariant μ(G) of graphs. He proved that μ(G) ≤ 2 if and only if G is outerplanar, and μ(G) ≤ 3 if and only if G is planar. We prove that if the complement of a graph G on n nodes is outerplanar, then μ(G) ≥ n - 4, and if it is planar, then μ(G) ≥ n - 5. We give a full characterization of maximal planar graphs whose complements G have μ(G) = n - 5. In the opposite direction we show that if G does not have "twin" nodes, then μ(G) ≥ n - 3 implies that the complement of G is outerplanar, and μ(G) ≥ n - 4 implies that the complement of G is planar. Our main tools are a geometric formulation of the invariant, and constructing representations of graphs by spheres, related to the classical result of Koebe about representing planar graphs by touching disks. In particular we show that such sphere representations characterize outerplanar and planar graphs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-521
Number of pages39
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - jan. 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics
  • Computational Mathematics

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