The chromatic number of Kneser graphs
In 1955 the number theorist Martin Kneser posed a seemingly innocuous problem that became one of the great challenges in graph theory until a brilliant and totally unexpected solution, using the “Borsuk–Ulam theorem” from topology, was found by László Lovász twenty-three years later.
It happens often in mathematics that once a proof for a long-standing problem is found, a shorter one quickly follows, and so it was in this case. Within weeks Imre Bárány showed how to combine the Borsuk–Ulam theorem with another known result to elegantly settle Kneser’s conjecture. Then in 2002 Joshua Greene, an undergraduate student, simplified Bárány’s argument even further, and it is his version of the proof that we present here.
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