For k ≥ 0, k-partial (k+1)-coloring asks to color the nodes of an n-node graph using a palette of k+1 colors such that every node v has at least min{k,deg(v)} neighbors colored with colors different from its own color. Hence, proper (Δ+1)-coloring is the special case of k-partial (k+1)-coloring when k = Δ. Ghaffari and Kuhn [FOCS 2021] recently proved that there exists a deterministic distributed algorithm that solves proper (Δ+1)-coloring of n-node graphs with maximum degree Δ in O(log n ⋅ log²Δ) rounds under the LOCAL model of distributed computing. This breakthrough result is achieved via an original iterated rounding approach. Using the same technique, Ghaffari and Kuhn also showed that there exists a deterministic algorithm that solves proper O(a)-coloring of n-node graphs with arboricity a in O(log n ⋅ log³a) rounds. It directly follows from this latter result that k-partial O(k)-coloring can be solved deterministically in O(log n ⋅ log³k) rounds.

We develop an extension of the Ghaffari and Kuhn algorithm for proper (Δ+1)-coloring, and show that it solves k-partial (k+1)-coloring, thus generalizing their main result. Our algorithm runs in O(log n ⋅ log³k) rounds, like the algorithm that follows from Ghaffari and Kuhn’s algorithm for graphs with bounded arboricity, but uses only k+1 color, i.e., the smallest number c of colors such that every graph has a k-partial c-coloring. Like all the previously mentioned algorithms, our algorithm actually solves the general list-coloring version of the problem. Specifically, every node v receives as input an integer demand d(v) ≤ deg(v), and a list of at least d(v)+1 colors. Every node must then output a color from its list such that the resulting coloring satisfies that every node v has at least d(v) neighbors with colors different from its own. Our algorithm solves this problem in O(log n ⋅ log³k) rounds where k = max_v d(v). Moreover, in the specific case where all lists of colors given to the nodes as input share a common colors c^* known to all nodes, one can save one log k factor. In particular, for standard k-partial (k+1)-coloring, which corresponds to the case where all nodes are given the same list {1,… ,k+1}, one can modify our algorithm so that it runs in O(log n ⋅ log²k) rounds, and thus matches the complexity of Ghaffari and Kuhn’s algorithm for (Δ+1)-coloring for k = Δ.