Weakly Linked Embeddings of Pairs of Complete Graphs in $\mathbb{R}^3$

  • James Di
  • Erica Flapan
  • Spencer Johnson
  • Daniel Thompson
  • Christopher Tuffley


Let $G$ and $H$ be disjoint embeddings of complete graphs $K_m$ and $K_n$ in $\mathbb{R}^3$ such that some cycle in $G$ links a cycle in $H$ with non-zero linking number. We say that $G$ and $H$ are weakly linked if the absolute value of the linking number of any cycle in $G$ with a cycle in $H$ is $0$ or $1$. Our main result is an algebraic characterisation of when a pair of disjointly embedded complete graphs is weakly linked.

As a step towards this result, we show that if $G$ and $H$ are weakly linked, then each contains either a vertex common to all triangles linking the other or a triangle which shares an edge with all triangles linking the other. All families of weakly linked pairs of embedded complete graphs are then characterised by which of these two cases holds in each complete graph.

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