Maximal-clique partitions and the Roller Coaster Conjecture

Jonathan Cutler, Luke Pebody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


A graph G is well-covered if every maximal independent set has the same cardinality q. Let ik(G) denote the number of independent sets of cardinality k in G. Brown, Dilcher, and Nowakowski conjectured that the independence sequence (i0(G),i1(G),…,iq(G)) was unimodal for any well-covered graph G with independence number q. Michael and Traves disproved this conjecture. Instead they posited the so-called “Roller Coaster” Conjecture: that the termsi⌈q2⌉(G),i⌈q2⌉+1(G),…,iq(G) could be in any specified order for some well-covered graph G with independence number q. Michael and Traves proved the conjecture for q<8 and Matchett extended this to q<12. In this paper, we prove the Roller Coaster Conjecture using a construction of graphs with a property related to that of having a maximal-clique partition. In particular, we show, for all pairs of integers 0≤k<q and positive integers m, that there is a well-covered graph G with independence number q for which every independent set of size k+1 is contained in a unique maximal independent set, but each independent set of size k is contained in at least m distinct maximal independent sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Combinatorial Theory. Series A
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017



  • Clique coverings
  • Independence polynomial
  • Well-covered graphs

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