The Power of the Weisfeiler-Leman Algorithm to Decompose Graphs

Authors Sandra Kiefer , Daniel Neuen

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Sandra Kiefer
  • RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
Daniel Neuen
  • RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

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Sandra Kiefer and Daniel Neuen. The Power of the Weisfeiler-Leman Algorithm to Decompose Graphs. In 44th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 138, pp. 45:1-45:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


The Weisfeiler-Leman procedure is a widely-used approach for graph isomorphism testing that works by iteratively computing an isomorphism-invariant coloring of vertex tuples. Meanwhile, a fundamental tool in structural graph theory, which is often exploited in approaches to tackle the graph isomorphism problem, is the decomposition into bi- and triconnected components. We prove that the 2-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman algorithm implicitly computes the decomposition of a graph into its triconnected components. Thus, the dimension of the algorithm needed to distinguish two given graphs is at most the dimension required to distinguish the corresponding decompositions into 3-connected components (assuming dimension at least 2). This result implies that for k >= 2, the k-dimensional algorithm distinguishes k-separators, i.e., k-tuples of vertices that separate the graph, from other vertex k-tuples. As a byproduct, we also obtain insights about the connectivity of constituent graphs of association schemes. In an application of the results, we show the new upper bound of k on the Weisfeiler-Leman dimension of graphs of treewidth at most k. Using a construction by Cai, Fürer, and Immerman, we also provide a new lower bound that is asymptotically tight up to a factor of 2.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Combinatorial algorithms
  • Theory of computation → Finite Model Theory
  • Theory of computation → Graph algorithms analysis
  • Weisfeiler-Leman
  • separators
  • first-order logic
  • counting quantifiers


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