Matrix Formulations of Matching Problems
Finding the maximum size of a matching in an undirected graph and finding the maximum size of branching in a directed graph can be formulated as matrix rank problems. The Tutte matrix, introduced by Tutte as a representation of an undirected graph, has rank equal to the maximum number of vertices covered by a matching in the associated graph. The branching matrix, a representation of a directed graph, has rank equal to the maximum number of vertices covered by a branching in the associated graph. A mixed graph has both undirected and directed edges, and the matching forest problem for mixed graphs, introduced by Giles, is a generalization of the matching problem and the branching problem. A mixed graph can be represented by the matching forest matrix, and the rank of the matching forest matrix is related to the size of a matching forest in the associated mixed graph. The Tutte matrix and the branching matrix have indeterminate entries, and we describe algorithms that evaluate the indeterminates as rationals in such a way that the rank of the evaluated matrix is equal to the rank of the indeterminate matrix. Matroids in the context of graphs are discussed, and matroid formulations for the matching, branching, and matching forest problems are given.