Power of $k$ Choices and Rainbow Spanning Trees in Random Graphs

  • Deepak Bal
  • Patrick Bennett
  • Alan Frieze
  • Paweł Prałat


We consider the Erdős-Rényi random graph process, which is a stochastic process that starts with $n$ vertices and no edges, and at each step adds one new edge chosen uniformly at random from the set of missing edges. Let $\mathcal{G}(n,m)$ be a graph with $m$ edges obtained after $m$ steps of this process. Each edge $e_i$ ($i=1,2,\ldots, m$) of $\mathcal{G}(n,m)$ independently chooses precisely $k \in\mathbb{N}$ colours, uniformly at random, from a given set of $n-1$ colours (one may view $e_i$ as a multi-edge). We stop the process prematurely at time $M$ when the following two events hold: $\mathcal{G}(n,M)$ is connected and every colour occurs at least once ($M={n \choose 2}$ if some colour does not occur before all edges are present; however, this does not happen asymptotically almost surely). The question addressed in this paper is whether $\mathcal{G}(n,M)$ has a rainbow spanning tree (that is, multicoloured tree on $n$ vertices). Clearly, both properties are necessary for the desired tree to exist.

In 1994, Frieze and McKay investigated the case $k=1$ and the answer to this question is "yes" (asymptotically almost surely). However, since the sharp threshold for connectivity is $\frac {n}{2} \log n$ and the sharp threshold for seeing all the colours is $\frac{n}{k} \log n$, the case $k=2$ is of special importance as in this case the two processes keep up with one another. In this paper, we show that asymptotically almost surely the answer is "yes" also for $k \ge 2$.

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