Sebastian Wiederrecht, Killing a vortex

The Structural Theorem of the Graph Minors series of Robertson and Seymour asserts that, for every $t\in\mathbb{N},$ there exists some constant $c_{t}$ such that every $K_{t}$-minor-free graph admits a tree decomposition whose torsos can be transformed, by the removal of at most $c_{t}$ vertices, to graphs that can be seen as the union of some graph that is embeddable to some surface of Euler genus at most $c_{t}$ and “at most $c_{t}$ vortices of depth $c_{t}$”. Our main combinatorial result is a “vortex-free” refinement of the above structural theorem as follows: we identify a (parameterized) graph $H_{t}$, called shallow vortex grid, and we prove that if in the above structural theorem we replace $K_{t}$ by $H_{t},$ then the resulting decomposition becomes “vortex-free”. Up to now, the most general classes of graphs admitting such a result were either bounded Euler genus graphs or the so called single-crossing minor-free graphs. Our result is tight in the sense that, whenever we minor-exclude a graph that is not a minor of some $H_{t},$ the appearance of vortices is unavoidable. Using the above decomposition theorem, we design an algorithm that, given an $H_{t}$-minor-free graph $G$, computes the generating function of all perfect matchings of $G$ in polynomial time. This algorithm yields, on $H_{t}$-minor-free graphs, polynomial algorithms for computational problems such as the {dimer problem, the exact matching problem}, and the computation of the permanent. Our results, combined with known complexity results, imply a complete characterization of minor-closed graphs classes where the number of perfect matchings is polynomially computable: They are exactly those graph classes that do not contain every $H_{t}$ as a minor. This provides a sharp complexity dichotomy for the problem of counting perfect matchings in minor-closed classes.

This is joint work with Dimitrios M. Thilikos.

Sebastian Wiederrecht, Matching Minors in Bipartite Graphs

Matching minors are a specialisation of minors which preserves the existence and elementary structural properties of perfect matchings. They were first discovered as part of the study of the Pfaffian recognition problem on bipartite graphs (Polya’s Permanent Problem) and acted as a major inspiration for the definition of butterfly minors in digraphs. In this talk we consider the origin and motivation behind the study of matching minors, the current state of the art, and their relation to structural digraph theory. The main result is a generalisation of the structure theorem by Robertson et al. and McCuaig for $K_{3,3}$-matching minor free bipartite graphs to bipartite graphs excluding $K_{t,t}$ as a matching minor for general t. This generalisation can be seen as a matching theoretic version of the Flat Wall Theorem by Robertson and Seymour.

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