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Paul Seymour, The Erdős-Hajnal conjecture is true for excluding a five-cycle
Wednesday, December 30, 2020 @ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM KST
In an n-vertex graph, there must be a clique or stable set of size at least $C\log n$, and there are graphs where this bound is attained. But if we look at graphs not containing a fixed graph H as an induced subgraph, the largest clique or stable set is bigger.
Erdős and Hajnal conjectured in 1977 that for every graph H, there exists c>0 such that every H-free graph has a clique or stable set of size at least $|G|^c$ (“H-free” means not containing H as an induced subgraph, and |G| means the number of vertices of G). This is still open, even for some five-vertex graphs H; and the case that has attracted most attention is when H is a cycle of length five.
It is true in that case. We will give a sketch of the proof, which is via applying a lemma about bipartite graphs, a variant of a theorem of I. Tomon.
This lemma has several other applications to the Erdős-Hajnal conjecture. For instance, it implies that for every cycle C and forest T, there exists c>0 such that every graph that is both C-free and T’-free (where T’ is the complement of T) has a clique or stable set of size $|G|^c$. (Until now this was open when C has length five and T is a 5-vertex path.)
Joint work with Maria Chudnovsky, Alex Scott and Sophie Spirkl.