The complexity of graph polynomials
This thesis examines graph polynomials and particularly their complexity. We give short proofs of two results from Gessel and Sagan (1996) which present new evaluations of the Tutte polynomial concerning orientations. A theorem of Massey et al (1997) gives an expression concerning the average size of a forest in a graph. We generalise this result to any simplicial complex. We answer a question posed by Kleinschmidt and Onn (1995) by showing that the language of partitionable simplicial complexes is in NP. We prove the following result concerning the complexity of the Tutte polynomial: Theorem 1. For any fixed k, there exists a polynomial time algorithm A, which will input any graph G, with tree-width at most k, and rational numbers x and y, and evaluate the Tutte polynomial, T(G;x,y). The rank generating function S of a graphic 2-polymatroid was introduced by Oxley and Whittle (1993). It has many similarities to the Tutte polynomial and we prove the following results. Theorem 2. Evaluating S at a fixed point (u,v) is #P-hard unless uv=1 when there is a polynomial time algorithm. Theorem 3. For any fixed k, there exists a polynomial time algorithm A, which will input any graph G, with tree-width at most k, and rational numbers u and v, and evaluate S(G;u,v). We consider a class of graphs $S$, which are those graphs which are obtainable from a graph with no edges using the unsigned version of Reidemeister moves. We examine the relationship between this class and other similarly defined classes such as the delta-wye graphs. There remain many open questions such as whether S contains every graph. However we have an invariant of the moves, based on the Tutte polynomial, which allows us to determine from which graph with no edges, if any, a particular graph can be obtained. Finally we consider a new polynomial on weighted graphs which is motivated by the study of weight systems on chord diagrams. We give three states model and a recipe theorem. An unweighted version of this polynomial is shown to contain as specialisations, a wide range of graph invariants, such as the Tutte polynomial, the polymatroid polynomial of Oxley and Whittle (1993) and the symmetric function generalisation of the chromatic polynomial introduced by Stanley (1995). We close with a discussion of complexity issues proving hardness results for very restricted classes of graphs.