Chromatic Polynomials for Families of Strip Graphs and their Asymptotic Limits

Research paper by Martin Rocek, Robert Shrock, Shan-Ho Tsai

Indexed on: 13 Dec '97Published on: 13 Dec '97Published in: Physics - Statistical Mechanics


We calculate the chromatic polynomials $P((G_s)_m,q)$ and, from these, the asymptotic limiting functions $W(\{G_s\},q)=\lim_{n \to \infty}P(G_s,q)^{1/n}$ for families of $n$-vertex graphs $(G_s)_m$ comprised of $m$ repeated subgraphs $H$ adjoined to an initial graph $I$. These calculations of $W(\{G_s\},q)$ for infinitely long strips of varying widths yield important insights into properties of $W(\Lambda,q)$ for two-dimensional lattices $\Lambda$. In turn, these results connect with statistical mechanics, since $W(\Lambda,q)$ is the ground state degeneracy of the $q$-state Potts model on the lattice $\Lambda$. For our calculations, we develop and use a generating function method, which enables us to determine both the chromatic polynomials of finite strip graphs and the resultant $W(\{G_s\},q)$ function in the limit $n \to \infty$. From this, we obtain the exact continuous locus of points ${\cal B}$ where $W(\{G_s\},q)$ is nonanalytic in the complex $q$ plane. This locus is shown to consist of arcs which do not separate the $q$ plane into disconnected regions. Zeros of chromatic polynomials are computed for finite strips and compared with the exact locus of singularities ${\cal B}$. We find that as the width of the infinitely long strips is increased, the arcs comprising ${\cal B}$ elongate and move toward each other, which enables one to understand the origin of closed regions that result for the (infinite) 2D lattice.