Distributed Coloring of Graphs with an Optimal Number of Colors

Authors Étienne Bamas, Louis Esperet

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Étienne Bamas
  • School of Computer and Communication Sciences, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Louis Esperet
  • Laboratoire G-SCOP (CNRS, Univ. Grenoble Alpes), Grenoble, France


We thank David Harris for pointing out the updated version of [M. Ghaffari et al., 2018] and for his kind remarks on earlier versions of the paper. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments and suggestions.

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Étienne Bamas and Louis Esperet. Distributed Coloring of Graphs with an Optimal Number of Colors. In 36th International Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Computer Science (STACS 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 126, pp. 10:1-10:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


This paper studies sufficient conditions to obtain efficient distributed algorithms coloring graphs optimally (i.e. with the minimum number of colors) in the LOCAL model of computation. Most of the work on distributed vertex coloring so far has focused on coloring graphs of maximum degree Delta with at most Delta+1 colors (or Delta colors when some simple obstructions are forbidden). When Delta is sufficiently large and c >= Delta-k_Delta+1, for some integer k_Delta ~~ sqrt{Delta}-2, we give a distributed algorithm that given a c-colorable graph G of maximum degree Delta, finds a c-coloring of G in min{O((log Delta)^{13/12}log n), 2^{O(log Delta+sqrt{log log n})}} rounds, with high probability. The lower bound Delta-k_Delta+1 is best possible in the sense that for infinitely many values of Delta, we prove that when chi(G) <= Delta-k_Delta, finding an optimal coloring of G requires Omega(n) rounds. Our proof is a light adaptation of a remarkable result of Molloy and Reed, who proved that for Delta large enough, for any c >= Delta-k_Delta deciding whether chi(G) <= c is in P, while Embden-Weinert et al. proved that for c <= Delta-k_Delta-1, the same problem is NP-complete. Note that the sequential and distributed thresholds differ by one. Our first result covers the case where the chromatic number of the graph ranges between Delta-sqrt{Delta} and Delta+1. Our second result covers a larger range, but gives a weaker bound on the number of colors: For any sufficiently large Delta, and Omega(log Delta) <= k <= Delta/100, we prove that every graph of maximum degree Delta and clique number at most Delta-k can be efficiently colored with at most Delta-epsilon k colors, for some absolute constant epsilon >0, with a randomized algorithm running in O(log n/log log n) rounds with high probability.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Graph coloring
  • Mathematics of computing → Graph algorithms
  • Theory of computation → Distributed algorithms
  • Graph coloring
  • distributed algorithm
  • maximum degree


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