Pebble Games and Linear Equations

Authors Martin Grohe, Martin Otto

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Martin Grohe
Martin Otto

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Martin Grohe and Martin Otto. Pebble Games and Linear Equations. In Computer Science Logic (CSL'12) - 26th International Workshop/21st Annual Conference of the EACSL. Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 16, pp. 289-304, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2012)


We give a new, simplified and detailed account of the correspondence between levels of the Sherali-Adams relaxation of graph isomorphism and levels of pebble-game equivalence with counting (higher-dimensional Weisfeiler-Lehman colour refinement). The correspondence between basic colour refinement and fractional isomorphism, due to Ramana, Scheinerman and Ullman, is re-interpreted as the base level of Sherali-Adams and generalised to higher levels in this sense by Atserias and Maneva, who prove that the two resulting hierarchies interleave. In carrying this analysis further, we here give (a) a precise characterisation of the level-k Sherali-Adams relaxation in terms of a modified counting pebble game; (b) a variant of the Sherali-Adams levels that precisely match the k-pebble counting game; (c) a proof that the interleaving between these two hierarchies is strict. We also investigate the variation based on boolean arithmetic instead of real/rational arithmetic and obtain analogous correspondences and separations for plain k-pebble equivalence (without counting). Our results are driven by considerably simplified accounts of the underlying combinatorics and linear algebra.
  • Finite model theory
  • finite variable logics
  • graph isomorphism
  • Weisfeiler- Lehman algorithm
  • linear programming
  • Sherali–Adams hierarchy


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