The first-fit algorithm uses many colors on some interval graphs

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Graph coloring is about allocating resources that can be shared except where there are certain pairwise conflicts between recipients. The simplest coloring algorithm that attempts to conserve resources is called

Graph coloring is about allocating resources that can be shared except where there are certain pairwise conflicts between recipients. The simplest coloring algorithm that attempts to conserve resources is called first fit. Interval graphs are used in models for scheduling (in computer science and operations research) and in biochemistry for one-dimensional molecules such as genetic material. It is not known precisely how much waste in the worst case is due to the first-fit algorithm for coloring interval graphs. However, after decades of research the range is narrow. Kierstead proved that the performance ratio R is at most 40. Pemmaraju, Raman, and Varadarajan proved that R is at most 10. This can be improved to 8. Witsenhausen, and independently Chrobak and Slusarek, proved that R is at least 4. Slusarek improved this to 4.45. Kierstead and Trotter extended the method of Chrobak and Slusarek to one good for a lower bound of 4.99999 or so. The method relies on number sequences with a certain property of order. It is shown here that each sequence considered in the construction satisfies a linear recurrence; that R is at least 5; that the Fibonacci sequence is in some sense minimally useless for the construction; and that the Fibonacci sequence is a point of accumulation in some space for the useful sequences of the construction. Limitations of all earlier constructions are revealed.