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Topological lower bounds for the chromatic number: A~hierarchy

Jiří Matoušek and Günter M. Ziegler – 2004

This paper is a study of ``topological'' lower bounds for the chromatic number of a graph. Such a lower bound was first introduced by Lov\'asz in 1978, in his famous proof of the \emph{Kneser conjecture} via Algebraic Topology. This conjecture stated that the \emph{Kneser graph} $\KG_{m,n}$, the graph with all $k$-element subsets of $\{1,2,...,n\}$ as vertices and all pairs of disjoint sets as edges, has chromatic number $n-2k+2$. Several other proofs have since been published (by B\'ar\'any, Schrijver, Dolnikov, Sarkaria, Kriz, Greene, and others), all of them based on some version of the Borsuk--Ulam theorem, but otherwise quite different. Each can be extended to yield some lower bound on the chromatic number of an arbitrary graph. (Indeed, we observe that \emph{every} finite graph may be represented as a generalized Kneser graph, to which the above bounds apply.) We show that these bounds are almost linearly ordered by strength, the strongest one being essentially Lov\'asz' original bound in terms of a neighborhood complex. We also present and compare various definitions of a \emph{box complex} of a graph (developing ideas of Alon, Frankl, and Lov\'asz and of \kriz). A suitable box complex is equivalent to Lov\'asz' complex, but the construction is simpler and functorial, mapping graphs with homomorphisms to $\Z_2$-spaces with $\Z_2$-maps.

Topological lower bounds for the chromatic number: A~hierarchy
Jiří Matoušek and Günter M. Ziegler
Erschienen in
Jahresbericht der DMV, volume 106, pages 71-90