Ramsey Numbers of Ordered Graphs

  • Martin Balko
  • Josef Cibulka
  • Karel Král
  • Jan Kynčl


An ordered graph is a pair $\mathcal{G}=(G,\prec)$ where $G$ is a graph and $\prec$ is a total ordering of its vertices.

The ordered Ramsey number $\overline{R}(\mathcal{G})$ is the minimum number $N$ such that every ordered complete graph with $N$ vertices and with edges colored by two colors contains a monochromatic copy of $\mathcal{G}$.

In contrast with the case of unordered graphs, we show that there are arbitrarily large ordered matchings $\mathcal{M}_n$ on $n$ vertices for which $\overline{R}(\mathcal{M}_n)$ is superpolynomial in $n$. This implies that ordered Ramsey numbers of the same graph can grow superpolynomially in the size of the graph in one ordering and remain linear in another ordering.

We also prove that the ordered Ramsey number $\overline{R}(\mathcal{G})$ is polynomial in the number of vertices of $\mathcal{G}$ if the bandwidth of $\mathcal{G}$ is constant or if $\mathcal{G}$ is an ordered graph of constant degeneracy and constant interval chromatic number.

The first result gives a positive answer to a question of Conlon, Fox, Lee, and Sudakov.

For a few special classes of ordered paths, stars or matchings, we give asymptotically tight bounds on their ordered Ramsey numbers. For so-called monotone cycles we compute their ordered Ramsey numbers exactly. This result implies exact formulas for geometric Ramsey numbers of cycles introduced by Károlyi, Pach, Tóth, and Valtr.

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