The depth-first search visit of a graph produces, in some implementations, a labeling of the edges as "Cross", "Back" and "Forward". I know "B" edges can be used to detect cycles.

What are other useful algorithms that use these labels?


1 Answer 1


Think of the following problem: Given a directed graph $G = (V,E)$, determine whether there is a pair of vertices $u, v$, s.t $u\neq v$ and $\mathit{and}$ there are at least two $\mathbf{simple}$ paths from $u$ to $v$.

Hint: use the edge labels given by the $DFS$.


If and only if there are any "cross" or "forward" arcs in the tree given by a $DFS$ tour on $G$, then a pair of vertices $u, v$ exists s.t are at least two $\mathbf{simple}$ paths from $u$ to $v$.


1. Suppose no "Cross" or "Forward" Arcs exist. Then the tree given by the $DFS$ is a directed tree, with some "Backwards" arcs. A tree by definition has only one path between every pair of vertices, and below it is shown backwards arcs only add new simple paths.

Consider the backward arc $(u,v)$:
$\bullet$ for all the ancestors of $v$, it only adds non simple paths.
$\bullet $ for all the descendants of $v$ and ancestors of $u$, denoted by $w$ (vertices between $u$ and $v$ on the tree), it adds one simple path from $w$ to any vertex below (including) $v$ and above (excluding) $w$. All these paths are new because the tree is directed, and all other paths are non-simple, because they contain a cycle.
$\bullet $ for descendants of $u$, it makes no difference.

$\bullet$ Suppose a "Cross" arc exists between $(u,v)$. Then $u$ cannot be the root of the tree (the proof is trivial and omitted). Which means the following simple paths exist: $r \rightarrow v$, $r \rightarrow u$, $r \rightarrow u \rightarrow v$
$\bullet$ Suppose a "Forward" arc exists between $(u,v)$. Then $v$ is a descendant of $u$, but not a child of $u$, therefore there are at least two simple paths from $u$ to $v$.


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