of a graph
If is a graph, then a factorization of is a set of spanning subgraphs of that are pairwise edge-disjoint (i.e., no two have a common edge) and whose union is all of . A one-factorization of is a decomposition of the edge-set of into edge-disjoint one-factors (cf. One-factor).
In order to have a one-factorization, a graph must have an even number of vertices and must be regular: if decomposes into disjoint one-factors, then every vertex of must lie on precisely edges. These conditions are not sufficient, since there is the following theorem: A regular graph with a bridge (cf. One-factor) cannot have a one-factorization (except for the trivial case where the graph is itself a one-factor).
If the degree increases with the number of vertices, the situation is different. It has been conjectured that a regular graph with vertices and degree greater than will always have a one-factorization; this has only been proved in a very few cases, such as degree , degree , and degree at least , [a7], [a20]. On the other hand, there are regular graphs with degree near to half the number of vertices and without one-factorizations.
One can prove the existence of one-factorizations in many classes of graphs. Of basic importance are the complete graphs. The complete graph has a one-factorization for all . The -vertex cycle has a one-factorization if and only if is even. The regular complete bipartite graph (cf. Graph, bipartite) always has a one-factorization. One-factorizations of complete bipartite graphs are equivalent to Latin squares (cf. Latin square).
Some other factorizations of complete graphs are important. A near-one-factor in is a set of edges which cover all but one vertex. A set of near-one-factors which covers every edge precisely once is called a near-one-factorization. has a near-one-factorization for every . It is in fact obvious that any near-one-factorization of can be converted to a one-factorization of by adding a vertex and joining to the isolated vertex in each factor. It follows that each vertex appears precisely once as an isolate in a near-one-factorization. (This also follows immediately by adding degrees.)
Theoretical considerations aside, it is often important to be able to construct a one-factorization (or a set of one-factorizations) of , for a particular value . A hill-climbing algorithm was described by J.H. Dinitz and D.R. Stinson [a10]. In order to use the hill-climbing approach, it is necessary to formulate the search for a one-factorization as an optimization problem. One first defines a matching to be a set of pairs of the form , where each edge of occurs as the latter entry in at most one of the pairs, and where contains no two pairs and with . The cost of a matching is . Then is a one-factorization if and only if . There is no guarantee that repeated applications of these heuristics will produce a one-factorization; however, Dinitz and Stinson [a10] report no failures in over a million trials.
A starter in an Abelian group of order is an ordered partition of the non-zero members of into -sets with the property that the differences are all different and therefore contain every non-zero element of precisely once. From a starter one constructs a set of factors by systematically adding elements of to . This process is called developing in . Many useful small examples of one-factorizations are constructed using starters. The starter consisting of all the pairs , where ranges through the non-zero elements of some group, is called a patterned starter.
There is only one one-factor in , and it (trivially) constitutes the unique one-factorization. Similarly, has just three one-factors, and together they form a factorization. There are six different one-factorizations of , of , of [a11], and of [a9]; no larger numbers are known.
Two one-factorizations and of , say
are called isomorphic if there exists a mapping from the vertex-set of onto itself such that
where is the set of all edges , where is an edge in . There is a unique one-factorization of , up to isomorphism, for . There are exactly six for [a8], of ; they are listed in [a11] (see also [a12]) and isomorphism classes of one-factorizations of [a9]. To discuss isomorphism of factorizations, various invariants have been used. The number of isomorphism classes of one-factorizations of tends to infinity as does [a4], [a16].
An object whose only automorphism is the identity is called rigid or asymmetric. There are no rigid one-factorizations on , , , or points. However, there is a rigid one-factorization of whenever . In fact, the number of isomorphism classes of rigid one-factorizations of goes to infinity with .
A one-factorization is called perfect if the union of any two factors is a Hamilton cycle (cf. Hamiltonian tour). Perfect one-factorizations exist for many orders, and no order (greater than 1) is known for which no perfect one-factorization of exists, but the existence question is not yet (1996) settled.
Apart from these two constructions, all other known perfect one-factorizations have been found by ad-hoc methods, using starters.
Various techniques have been studied which produce a new graph from two given graphs. There is some interest in the following problems: Given a form of graph product, what conditions on graphs and imply that the product of and has a one-factorization? This has been studied for Cartesian products, wreath products and tensor products. References include [a1], [a13], [a14], [a15], [a19], [a23], [a27].
One-factorizations are frequently used to schedule sporting tournaments. One considers a graph whose vertices are competing teams; an edge indicates that the two teams must play against each other. The set of games held simultaneously is called a round. Suppose each team must compete in every round. Clearly, the games that form a round form a one-factor in the underlying graph. If a round robin tournament for teams is to be played in the minimum number of sessions, one requires a one-factorization of . If there are teams, the relevant structure is a near-one-factorization of . In each case the factorization is called the schedule of the tournament.
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One-factorization. W.D. Wallis (originator), Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL: http://www.encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=One-factorization&oldid=14412