# Z_2-genus of graphs and minimum rank of partial symmetric matrices

The genus g(G) of a graph G is the minimum g such that G has an embedding on the orientable surface M_g of genus g. A drawing of a graph on a surface is independently even if every pair of nonadjacent edges in the drawing crosses an even number of times. The Z_2-genus of a graph G, denoted by g_0(G), is the minimum g such that G has an independently even drawing on M_g. By a result of Battle, Harary, Kodama and Youngs from 1962, the graph genus is additive over 2-connected blocks. In 2013, Schaefer and Štefankovič proved that the Z_2-genus of a graph is additive over 2-connected blocks as well, and asked whether this result can be extended to so-called 2-amalgamations, as an analogue of results by Decker, Glover, Huneke, and Stahl for the genus. We give the following partial answer. If G=G_1∪ G_2, G_1 and G_2 intersect in two vertices u and v, and G-u-v has k connected components (among which we count the edge uv if present), then |g_0(G)-(g_0(G_1)+g_0(G_2))|< k+1. For complete bipartite graphs K_m,n, with n> m> 3, we prove that g_0(K_m,n)/g(K_m,n)=1-O(1/n). Similar results are proved also for the Euler Z_2-genus. We express the Z_2-genus of a graph using the minimum rank of partial symmetric matrices over Z_2; a problem that might be of independent interest.

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