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# On the First-Order Complexity of Induced Subgraph Isomorphism

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## Cite As

Oleg Verbitsky and Maksim Zhukovskii. On the First-Order Complexity of Induced Subgraph Isomorphism. In 26th EACSL Annual Conference on Computer Science Logic (CSL 2017). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 82, pp. 40:1-40:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2017)
https://doi.org/10.4230/LIPIcs.CSL.2017.40

## Abstract

Given a graph F, let I(F) be the class of graphs containing F as an induced subgraph. Let W[F] denote the minimum k such that I(F) is definable in k-variable first-order logic. The recognition problem of I(F), known as Induced Subgraph Isomorphism (for the pattern graph F), is solvable in time O(n^{W[F]}). Motivated by this fact, we are interested in determining or estimating the value of W[F]. Using Olariu's characterization of paw-free graphs, we show that I(K_3+e) is definable by a first-order sentence of quantifier depth 3, where K_3+e denotes the paw graph. This provides an example of a graph F with W[F] strictly less than the number of vertices in F. On the other hand, we prove that W[F]=4 for all F on 4 vertices except the paw graph and its complement. If F is a graph on t vertices, we prove a general lower bound W[F]>(1/2-o(1))t, where the function in the little-o notation approaches 0 as t increases. This bound holds true even for a related parameter W^*[F], which is defined as the minimum k such that I(F) is definable in the k-variable infinitary logic. We show that W^*[F] can be strictly less than W[F]. Specifically, W^*[P_4]=3 for P_4 being the path graph on 4 vertices.
##### Keywords
• the induced subgraph isomorphism problem
• descriptive and computational complexity
• finite-variable first-order logic
• quantifier depth and variable w

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