Core (graph theory) Information

From Wikipedia

In the mathematical field of graph theory, a core is a notion that describes behavior of a graph with respect to graph homomorphisms.


Graph is a core if every homomorphism is an isomorphism, that is it is a bijection of vertices of .

A core of a graph is a graph such that

  1. There exists a homomorphism from to ,
  2. there exists a homomorphism from to , and
  3. is minimal with this property.

Two graphs are said to be homomorphism equivalent or hom-equivalent if they have isomorphic cores.


  • Any complete graph is a core.
  • A cycle of odd length is its own core.
  • Every two cycles of even length, and more generally every two bipartite graphs are hom-equivalent. The core of each of these graphs is the two-vertex complete graph K2.


Every graph has a core, which is determined uniquely, up to isomorphism. The core of a graph G is always an induced subgraph of G. If and then the graphs and are necessarily homomorphically equivalent.

Computational complexity

It is NP-complete to test whether a graph has a homomorphism to a proper subgraph, and co-NP-complete to test whether a graph is its own core (i.e. whether no such homomorphism exists) ( Hell & Nešetřil 1992).


  • Godsil, Chris, and Royle, Gordon. Algebraic Graph Theory. Graduate Texts in Mathematics, Vol. 207. Springer-Verlag, New York, 2001. Chapter 6 section 2.
  • Hell, Pavol; Nešetřil, Jaroslav (1992), "The core of a graph", Discrete Mathematics, 109 (1–3): 117–126, doi: 10.1016/0012-365X(92)90282-K, MR  1192374.
  • Nešetřil, Jaroslav; Ossona de Mendez, Patrice (2012), "Proposition 3.5", Sparsity: Graphs, Structures, and Algorithms, Algorithms and Combinatorics, vol. 28, Heidelberg: Springer, p. 43, doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-27875-4, ISBN  978-3-642-27874-7, MR  2920058.