On the Path-Avoidance Vertex-Coloring Game

  • Torsten Mütze
  • Reto Spöhel


For any graph $F$ and any integer $r\geq 2$, the online vertex-Ramsey density of $F$ and $r$, denoted $m^*(F,r)$, is a parameter defined via a deterministic two-player Ramsey-type game (Painter vs. Builder). This parameter was introduced in a recent paper [arXiv:1103.5849], where it was shown that the online vertex-Ramsey density determines the threshold of a similar probabilistic one-player game (Painter vs. the binomial random graph $G_{n,p}$). For a large class of graphs $F$, including cliques, cycles, complete bipartite graphs, hypercubes, wheels, and stars of arbitrary size, a simple greedy strategy is optimal for Painter and closed formulas for $m^*(F,r)$ are known.

In this work we show that for the case where $F=P_\ell$ is a long path, the picture is very different. It is not hard to see that $m^*(P_\ell,r)= 1-1/k^*(P_\ell,r)$ for an appropriately defined integer $k^*(P_\ell,r)$, and that the greedy strategy gives a lower bound of $k^*(P_\ell,r)\geq \ell^r$. We construct and analyze Painter strategies that improve on this greedy lower bound by a factor polynomial in $\ell$, and we show that no superpolynomial improvement is possible.

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