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Dynamic Planar Embedding Is in DynFO

Authors Samir Datta , Asif Khan, Anish Mukherjee

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Author Details

Samir Datta
  • Chennai Mathematical Institute & UMI ReLaX, Chennai, India
Asif Khan
  • Chennai Mathematical Institute, India
Anish Mukherjee
  • University of Warwick, Coventry, UK


Thanks to Nils Vortmeier and Thomas Zeume for illuminating discussions.

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Samir Datta, Asif Khan, and Anish Mukherjee. Dynamic Planar Embedding Is in DynFO. In 48th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 272, pp. 39:1-39:15, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


Planar Embedding is a drawing of a graph on the plane such that the edges do not intersect each other except at the vertices. We know that testing the planarity of a graph and computing its embedding (if it exists), can efficiently be computed, both sequentially [John E. Hopcroft and Robert Endre Tarjan, 1974] and in parallel [Vijaya Ramachandran and John H. Reif, 1994], when the entire graph is presented as input. In the dynamic setting, the input graph changes one edge at a time through insertion and deletions and planarity testing/embedding has to be updated after every change. By storing auxilliary information we can improve the complexity of dynamic planarity testing/embedding over the obvious recomputation from scratch. In the sequential dynamic setting, there has been a series of works [David Eppstein et al., 1996; Giuseppe F. Italiano et al., 1993; Jacob Holm et al., 2018; Jacob Holm and Eva Rotenberg, 2020], culminating in the breakthrough result of polylog(n) sequential time (amortized) planarity testing algorithm of Holm and Rotenberg [Jacob Holm and Eva Rotenberg, 2020]. In this paper we study planar embedding through the lens of DynFO, a parallel dynamic complexity class introduced by Patnaik et al [Sushant Patnaik and Neil Immerman, 1997] (also [Guozhu Dong et al., 1995]). We show that it is possible to dynamically maintain whether an edge can be inserted to a planar graph without causing non-planarity in DynFO. We extend this to show how to maintain an embedding of a planar graph under both edge insertions and deletions, while rejecting edge insertions that violate planarity. Our main idea is to maintain embeddings of only the triconnected components and a special two-colouring of separating pairs that enables us to side-step cascading flips when embedding of a biconnected planar graph changes, a major issue for sequential dynamic algorithms [Jacob Holm and Eva Rotenberg, 2020; Jacob Holm and Eva Rotenberg, 2020].

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Complexity theory and logic
  • Theory of computation → Finite Model Theory
  • Dynamic Complexity
  • Planar graphs
  • Planar embedding


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