The Density of Fan-Planar Graphs

  • Michael Kaufmann
  • Torsten Ueckerdt


A topological drawing of a graph is fan-planar if for each edge $e$ the edges crossing $e$ form a star and no endpoint of $e$ is enclosed by $e$ and its crossing edges. A fan-planar graph is a graph admitting such a drawing. Equivalently, this can be formulated by three forbidden patterns, one of which is the configuration where $e$ is crossed by two independent edges and the other two where $e$ is crossed by two incident edges in a way that encloses some endpoint of $e$. A topological drawing is simple if any two edges have at most one point in common.

 Fan-planar graphs are a new member in the ever-growing list of topological graphs defined by forbidden intersection patterns, such as planar graphs and their generalizations, Turán-graphs and Conway's thrackle conjecture. Hence fan-planar graphs fall into an important field in combinatorial geometry with applications in various areas of discrete mathematics.

 As every $1$-planar graph is fan-planar and every fan-planar graph is $3$-quasiplanar, they also fit perfectly in a recent series of works on nearly-planar graphs from the areas of graph drawing and combinatorial embeddings.

In this paper we show that every fan-planar graph on $n$ vertices has at most $5n-10$ edges, even though a fan-planar drawing may have a quadratic number of crossings. Our bound, which is tight for every $n \geq 20$, indicates how nicely fan-planar graphs fit in the row with planar graphs ($3n-6$ edges) and $1$-planar graphs ($4n-8$ edges). With this, fan-planar graphs form an inclusion-wise largest non-trivial class of topological graphs defined by forbidden patterns, for which the maximum number of edges on $n$ vertices is known exactly.

We demonstrate that maximum fan-planar graphs carry a rich structure, which makes this class attractive for many algorithms commonly used in graph drawing. Finally, we discuss possible extensions and generalizations of these new concepts.

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