On the Alon-Tarsi Number and Chromatic-Choosability of Cartesian Products of Graphs

  • Hemanshu Kaul Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Jeffrey A. Mudrock College of Lake County


We study the list chromatic number of Cartesian products of graphs through the Alon-Tarsi number as defined by Jensen and Toft (1995) in their seminal book on graph coloring problems. The Alon-Tarsi number of $G$, $AT(G)$, is the smallest $k$ for which there is an orientation, $D$, of $G$ with max indegree $k\!-\!1$ such that the number of even and odd circulations contained in $D$ are different. It is known that $\chi(G) \leq \chi_\ell(G) \leq \chi_p(G) \leq AT(G)$, where  $\chi(G)$ is the chromatic number, $\chi_\ell(G)$ is the list chromatic number, and $\chi_p(G)$ is the paint number of $G$. In this paper we find families of graphs $G$ and $H$ such that $\chi(G \square H) = AT(G \square H)$, reducing this sequence of inequalities to equality.

We show that the Alon-Tarsi number of the Cartesian product of an odd cycle and a path is always equal to 3. This result is then extended to show that if $G$ is an odd cycle or a complete graph and $H$ is a graph on at least two vertices containing the Hamilton path $w_1, w_2, \ldots, w_n$ such that for each $i$, $w_i$ has a most $k$ neighbors among $w_1, w_2, \ldots, w_{i-1}$, then $AT(G \square H) \leq \Delta(G)+k$ where $\Delta(G)$ is the maximum degree of $G$.  We discuss other extensions for $G \square H$, where $G$ is such that $V(G)$ can be partitioned into odd cycles and complete graphs, and $H$ is a graph containing a Hamiltonian path. We apply these bounds to get chromatic-choosable Cartesian products, in fact we show that these families of graphs have $\chi(G) = AT(G)$, improving previously known bounds.

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