For any finite set ℋ = {H_1,…,H_p} of graphs, a graph is ℋ-subgraph-free if it does not contain any of H_1,…,H_p as a subgraph. In recent work, meta-classifications have been studied: these show that if graph problems satisfy certain prescribed conditions, their complexity can be classified on classes of ℋ-subgraph-free graphs. We continue this work and focus on problems that have polynomial-time solutions on classes that have bounded treewidth or maximum degree at most 3 and examine their complexity on H-subgraph-free graph classes where H is a connected graph. With this approach, we obtain comprehensive classifications for (Independent) Feedback Vertex Set, Connected Vertex Cover, Colouring and Matching Cut. This resolves a number of open problems.

We highlight that, to establish that Independent Feedback Vertex Set belongs to this collection of problems, we first show that it can be solved in polynomial time on graphs of maximum degree 3. We demonstrate that, with the exception of the complete graph on four vertices, each graph in this class has a minimum size feedback vertex set that is also an independent set.