A Geometrical Perspective of The Four Colour Theorem


All acknowledged proofs of the Four Colour Theorem (4CT) are computerdependent. They appeal to the existence, and manual identification, of an ‘unavoidable’ set containing a sufficient number of explicitly defined configurations—each evidenced only by a computer as ‘reducible’—such that at least one of the configurations must occur in any chromatically distinguished, putatively minimal, planar map. For instance, Appel and Haken ‘identified’ 1,482 such configurations in their 1977, computer-dependent, proof of 4CT; whilst Neil Robertson et al ‘identified’ 633 configurations as sufficient in their 1997, also computer-dependent, proof of 4CT. However, treating any specific number of ‘reducible’ configurations in an ‘unavoidable’ set as sufficient entails a minimum number as necessary and sufficient. We now show that the minimum number of such configurations can only be the one corresponding to the ‘unavoidable’ set of the single, ‘reducible’, 4-sided configuration identified by Alfred Kempe in his, seemingly fatally flawed, 1879 ‘proof’ of 4CT. We shall further show that although Kempe fallaciously concluded that a 5-sided configuration was also in the ‘unavoidable’ set, and appealed to unproven properties of ‘Kempe’ chains in a graphical representation to then argue for its ‘reducibility’, neither flaw in his ‘proof’ is fatal when the argument is expressed geometrically; and that, essentially, Kempe correctly argued that any planar map which admits a chromatic differentiation with a five-sided area C that shares non-zero boundaries with four, all differently coloured, neighbours can be 4-coloured.

Author's Profile


Added to PP

137 (#79,313)

6 months
100 (#37,851)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?