September 29 – October 4 , 2019, Dagstuhl Seminar 19401

Comparative Theory for Graph Polynomials


Jo Ellis-Monaghan (Saint Michael's College – Colchester, US)
Andrew Goodall (Charles University – Prague, CZ)
Iain Moffatt (Royal Holloway University of London, GB)
Kerri Morgan (Deakin University – Melbourne, AU)

For support, please contact

Dagstuhl Service Team


Dagstuhl Report, Volume 9, Issue 9 Dagstuhl Report
Aims & Scope
List of Participants
Dagstuhl's Impact: Documents available
Dagstuhl Seminar Schedule [pdf]


This 5-day Seminar built on the previous Dagstuhl Seminar 16241 together with several intervening workshops on graph polynomials, particularly those associated with William Tutte's Centenary, to advance an emerging comparative theory for graph polynomials. Graph polynomials have played a key role in combinatorics and its applications, having effected breakthroughs in conceptual understanding and brought together different strands of scientific thought. For example, the characteristic and matching polynomials advanced graph-theoretical techniques in chemistry; and the Tutte polynomial married combinatorics and statistical physics, and helped resolve long-standing problems in knot theory. The area of graph polynomials is incredibly active, with new applications and new graph polynomials being discovered each year. However, the resulting plethora of techniques and results urgently requires synthesis. Beyond catalogues and classifications we need a comparative theory and unified approaches to streamline proofs and deepen understanding.

The Seminar provided a space for the cross-fertilization of ideas among researchers in graph theory, algebraic graph theory, topological graph theory, computational complexity, logic and finite model theory, and biocomputing and statistical mechanics applications. There is a long history in this area of results in one field leading to breakthroughs in another when techniques are transferred, and this workshop leveraged that paradigm. More critically, experts in the field have recently begun noticing strong resonances in both results and proof techniques among the various polynomials. The species and genera of graph polynomials are diverse, but there are strong interconnections: in this seminar we worked towards a general theory that brings them together under one family. The process of developing such a theory of graph polynomials exposes deeper connections, giving great impetus to both theory and applications. This has immense and exciting potential for all those fields of science where combinatorial information needs to be extracted and interpreted.

The seminar was roughly organized according to the following themes:

  • Unification: General frameworks for graph polynomials including meta-problems, K-theory, Second Order Logic, and Hopf algebras.
  • Generalizations: Polynomial invariants for graphs with added structure (e.g. digraphs, ribbon graphs) or more general "underlying" combinatorial structures (e.g. matroids, Delta-matroids).
  • Distinction: Distinguishing power of graph invariants (equivalence and uniqueness up to isomorphism with respect to a given graph polynomial, interrelations among graph polynomials, properties of graph polynomials).
  • Applications: Applications of graph polynomials in other disciplines (e.g. self-assembly, sequencing, quantum walks, statistical mechanics, knot theory, quantum Ising model).
  • Conjectures: Breakthrough conjectures (outstanding open problems whose resolution would have a broad impact on the understanding of graph polynomials).
  • Complexity: Computational complexity and computational methods.
Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  Jo Ellis-Monaghan, Andrew Goodall, Iain Moffatt, and Kerri Morgan

Related Dagstuhl Seminar


  • Data Structures / Algorithms / Complexity
  • Networks
  • Verification / Logic


  • Graph Polynomials
  • Graph and Matroid Invariants
  • Tutte polynomial
  • Topological and Algebraic Graph Theory


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.