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A deterministic algorithm for counting colorings with 2Δ colors

by   Alistair Sinclair, et al.
berkeley college

We give a polynomial time deterministic approximation algorithm (an FPTAS) for counting the number of q-colorings of a graph of maximum degree Δ, provided only that q> 2Δ. This substantially improves on previous deterministic algorithms for this problem, the best of which requires q> 2.58Δ, and matches the natural bound for randomized algorithms obtained by a straightforward application of Markov chain Monte Carlo. In the special case when the graph is also triangle-free, we show that our algorithm applies under the condition q ≥αΔ + β, where α≈ 1.764 and β = β(α) are absolute constants. Our result applies more generally to list colorings, and to the partition function of the anti-ferromagnetic Potts model. Our algorithm exploits the so-called "polynomial interpolation" method of Barvinok, identifying a suitable region of the complex plane in which the Potts model partition function has no zeros. Interestingly, our method for identifying this zero-free region leverages probabilistic and combinatorial ideas that have been used in the analysis of Markov chains.


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