K_t minors in large t-connected graphs

Graph Theory Seminar
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 10:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
Princeton University
 A graph G contains a graph H as a minor if a graph isomorphic to H can be obtained from a subgraph of G bycontracting edges. One of the central results of the rich theory of graph minors developed by Robertson and Seymour is an approximate description of graphs that do not contain a fixed graph as a minor. An exact description is only known in a few cases when the excluded minor is quite small.In recent joint work with Robin Thomas we have proved a conjecture of his, giving an exact characterization of all large, t-connected graphs G that do not contain K_t, the complete graph on t vertices, as a minor. Namely, we have shown that for every integer t there exists an integer N=N(t) such that a t-connected graph G on at least N vertices has no K_t minor if and only if G contains a set of at most t- 5 vertices whose deletion makes G planar. In this talk I will describe the motivation behind this result, outline its proof and mention potential applications of our methods to other problems.