Hardness and algorithms for rainbow connection

Sourav Chakraborty, Eldar Fischer, Arie Matsliah, Raphael Yuster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An edge-colored graph G is rainbow connected if any two vertices are connected by a path whose edges have distinct colors. The rainbow connection of a connected graph G, denoted rc(G), is the smallest number of colors that are needed in order to make G rainbow connected. In the first result of this paper we prove that computing rc(G) is NP-Hard solving an open problem from Caro et al. (Electron. J. Comb. 15, 2008, Paper R57). In fact, we prove that it is already NP-Complete to decide if rc(G)=2, and also that it is NP-Complete to decide whether a given edge-colored (with an unbounded number of colors) graph is rainbow connected. On the positive side, we prove that for every ε>0, a connected graph with minimum degree at least εn has bounded rainbow connection, where the bound depends only on ε, and a corresponding coloring can be constructed in polynomial time. Additional non-trivial upper bounds, as well as open problems and conjectures are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-347
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Combinatorial Optimization
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Connectivity
  • Rainbow coloring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics
  • Control and Optimization
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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