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of a graph

Suppose $G$ is a (simple) graph. A matching in $G$ is a set of pairwise-disjoint edges in $G$. A one-factor or spanning matching is a set of edges such that every vertex of $G$ occurs in exactly one edge.

Not every graph $G$ has a one-factor. One obvious necessary condition is that $G$ has no connected component with an odd number of vertices. However this is not a sufficient condition. The smallest graph connected with an even number of vertices but no one-factor is:

Figure: o110060a

One-factors were first studied by W.T. Tutte, who proved the following characterization. If $W$ is any subset of the vertex set $V(G)$ of $G$, let $G-W$ denote the graph constructed from $G$ by deleting $W$ and all edges touching members of $W$. The components of $G-W$ are odd or even according as they have an odd or even number of vertices. Write $\phi(W)$ for the number of odd components of $G-W$.

Tutte's theorem [a6]: $G$ contains a one-factor if and only if $\phi(W)\leq|W|$ whenever $W\leq V(G)$.

A consequence is that for $n$ even, any regular graph of degree $n-1$ on $2n$ vertices has a one-factor.

A bridge in a graph $G$ is an edge whose deletion disconnects $G$.

Petersen's theorem [a4]: A bridgeless cubic graph contains a one-factor.

This has been generalized by T. Schönberger [a5], who proved that every edge of a bridgeless cubic graph lies in a one-factor. C. Berge [a1] and A.B. Cruse [a3] proved another generalization. If $W$ is any set of vertices of $G$, let $z_G(W)$ be the number of edges of $G$ with exactly one end-point in $W$.

The Berge–Cruse theorem: If $G$ is a regular graph of degree $d$ with an even number of vertices, and if $z_G(W)\leq d-1$ for all odd-order subsets $W$ of $V(G)$, then each edge of $G$ belongs to some one-factor.

Consequences are [a3]:

1) if $G$ is a regular graph of degree $d$ with $2m$ vertices and $d\geq m$ ($m$ odd) or $d\geq m-1$ ($m$ even), then every edge of $G$ belongs to some one-factor;

2) if $G$ is a regular graph of valency $d$ with $m$ vertices and $d\geq m\geq2$, then $G$ contains at least


disjoint one-factors.

A number of results have been proved concerning whether a graph of a certain description (usually a quite sparse graph) contains a one-factor.

Important references include [a2], and [a7].


[a1] C. Berge, "Graphs and hypergraphs" , North-Holland (1973) (Translated from French)
[a2] J. Bosák, "Decomposition of graphs" , Kluwer Acad. Publ. (1990)
[a3] A.B. Cruse, "A note on one-factors in certain regular multigraphs" Discrete Math. , 18 (1977) pp. 213–216
[a4] J. Petersen, "Die Theorie der regulären Graphes" Acta Math. , 15 (1981) pp. 193–220
[a5] T. Schönberger, "Ein Beweis des Peterschen Graphensatzes" Acta Sci. Math. Szeged , 7 (1934) pp. 51–57
[a6] W.T. Tutte, "The factorizations of linear graphs" J. London Math. Soc. , 22 (1947) pp. 459–474
[a7] W.D. Wallis, "One-factorizations" , Kluwer Acad. Publ. (1997)
How to Cite This Entry:
One-factor. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by W.D. Wallis (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article