The Center for Discrete Mathematics
and Theoretical Computer Science

Reconnect Satellite Conference 2003
Reconnecting Teaching Faculty to the Mathematical Sciences Enterprise

July 16, 2002 - July 23, 2003
(A break day will be provided in between the program schedule)

Centrality in Graphs with Applications to the Theory of Location of Facilities
K. Brooks Reid, California State University San Marcos, breid@csusm.edu

Graphs are used to model many real life situations, and in such circumstances graph theory serves as a foundational structure to help explain the world in which we live. One very interesting application of graph theory is in the theory of the location of facilities in networks. The theory of location of facilities in networks combines tools from graph theory, basic analysis, optimization, and complexity theory. In this series of lectures we use the motivation from the theory of the location of facilities on networks to concentrate on some of the underlying graph theory. The goal of this series of talks is to convey the idea that this subject is a very accessible branch of applicable combinatorics, rich in problems, and offering an occasional surprise. Parts of the subject can be incorporated into the undergraduate classroom, both to illustrate a modern application of graph theory and to illustrate how applied problems can give rise to new questions in pure mathematics. The content is very suitable for stimulating departmental seminars and/or undergraduate lectures.

The major focus of the theory of location of facilities on networks is to determine where to locate facilities of some sort in a network of sites that include both potential facility sites and facility user sites. Facilities might be emergency installations, supply depots, switching stations, pumping stations, power facilities, transfer stations, communication devices, obnoxious facilities, or the like. Location(s) are required that "best" serve the users, where "best" is measured by criteria given in each particular example, some of which are required to be optimized over the network. Optimality depends on criteria usually involving some ideas of distance and costs, and varies according to the application. Weighted graphs, often referred to as networks, provide a context for studying these types of problems. Vertices and edges are assigned weights representing certain parameters (often some sort of costs) according to the application. Usually, special sets of points in the network are sought that are either "central" or "peripheral." Results in the literature range from the descriptions of optimal locations, to algorithms for locating optimal locations, to the computational difficulty in actually determining these optimal locations. Considerable study has been focused on weighted trees. These issues have motivated graph theorists to probe many different notions of central sets of vertices and notions of the "outer fringes" in ordinary (unweighted) graphs, particularly trees. In such models, users and facility locations are thought to be restricted to vertices. However, the graph theoretical origins of centrality precede the advent of modern location theory as C. Jordan introduced the concepts of the center of a tree and the branch weight centroid of a tree in 1869.

One major question that we will focus on during these lectures is: Where is the middle of a tree? We will see that there can be many different descriptions of the middle of a tree, some of which describe the same set. However, many descriptions lead to different central sets. We will also consider multiple centers, central sub-structures, anti-centrality, axiomatics, and some work on user preferences in determining locations. In addition, we will consider extensions of these ideas to graphs in general, and in some cases treat the network analogs.

Prerequisites: Participants should have good theorem proving skills, curiosity, enthusiasm for a new subject, and an acquaintance with graphs at least at the level of a discrete mathematics course.


The following are some references of books on the theory of locations of facilities. These focus more on the computational aspects of the area.

Journals that publish articles on computational aspects of the area include Networks, Discrete Applied Mathematics, SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics, European Journal of Operational Research, Mathematical Programming , among others.

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