Planar median graphs and cubesquare-graphs

Carsten R. Seemann, Vincent Moulton, Peter F. Stadler, Marc Hellmuth

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Median graphs are connected graphs in which for all three vertices there is a unique vertex that belongs to shortest paths between each pair of these three vertices. In this paper we provide several novel characterizations of planar median graphs. More specifically, we characterize when a planar graph G is a median graph in terms of forbidden subgraphs and the structure of isometric cycles in G, and also in terms of subgraphs of G that are contained inside and outside of 4-cycles with respect to an arbitrary planar embedding of G. These results lead us to a new characterization of planar median graphs in terms of cubesquare-graphs that is, graphs that can be obtained by starting with cubes and square-graphs, and iteratively replacing 4-cycle boundaries (relative to some embedding) by cubes or square-graphs. As a corollary we also show that a graph is planar median if and only if it can be obtained from cubes and square-graphs by a sequence of “square-boundary” amalgamations. These considerations also lead to an O(n log n)-time recognition algorithm to compute a decomposition of a planar median graph with n vertices into cubes and square-graphs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-58
Number of pages21
JournalDiscrete Applied Mathematics
Early online date30 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023


  • Characterization
  • Hybercube
  • Planar median graph
  • QS-graph
  • Recognition algorithm
  • Square-graph

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