Ordered Graph Limits and Their Applications

Authors Omri Ben-Eliezer, Eldar Fischer, Amit Levi, Yuichi Yoshida

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Omri Ben-Eliezer
  • Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Eldar Fischer
  • Faculty of Computer Science, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Amit Levi
  • Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Canada
Yuichi Yoshida
  • Principles of Informatics Research Division, National Institute of Informatics (NII), Tokyo, Japan

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Omri Ben-Eliezer, Eldar Fischer, Amit Levi, and Yuichi Yoshida. Ordered Graph Limits and Their Applications. In 12th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference (ITCS 2021). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 185, pp. 42:1-42:20, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2021)


The emerging theory of graph limits exhibits an analytic perspective on graphs, showing that many important concepts and tools in graph theory and its applications can be described more naturally (and sometimes proved more easily) in analytic language. We extend the theory of graph limits to the ordered setting, presenting a limit object for dense vertex-ordered graphs, which we call an orderon. As a special case, this yields limit objects for matrices whose rows and columns are ordered, and for dynamic graphs that expand (via vertex insertions) over time. Along the way, we devise an ordered locality-preserving variant of the cut distance between ordered graphs, showing that two graphs are close with respect to this distance if and only if they are similar in terms of their ordered subgraph frequencies. We show that the space of orderons is compact with respect to this distance notion, which is key to a successful analysis of combinatorial objects through their limits. For the proof we combine techniques used in the unordered setting with several new techniques specifically designed to overcome the challenges arising in the ordered setting. We derive several applications of the ordered limit theory in extremal combinatorics, sampling, and property testing in ordered graphs. In particular, we prove a new ordered analogue of the well-known result by Alon and Stav [RS&A'08] on the furthest graph from a hereditary property; this is the first known result of this type in the ordered setting. Unlike the unordered regime, here the Erdős–Rényi random graph 𝐆(n, p) with an ordering over the vertices is not always asymptotically the furthest from the property for some p. However, using our ordered limit theory, we show that random graphs generated by a stochastic block model, where the blocks are consecutive in the vertex ordering, are (approximately) the furthest. Additionally, we describe an alternative analytic proof of the ordered graph removal lemma [Alon et al., FOCS'17].

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Functional analysis
  • Mathematics of computing → Nonparametric representations
  • Mathematics of computing → Extremal graph theory
  • Theory of computation → Streaming, sublinear and near linear time algorithms
  • graph limits
  • ordered graph
  • graphon
  • cut distance
  • removal lemma


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