Graphing History


UMD: First American University to Host International Workshop

UMD Professor Dalibor Froncek (right) studied under Alexander Rosa (left), the man credited with founding graph labeling.

The UMD Department of Mathematics and Statistics was host to the Sixth Annual International Workshop on Graph Labeling (IWOGL) on Oct. 20-22. The workshop had guest lecturers from across four continents, including the countries of India, Australia, Canada, U.S., and Indonesia. Each lecturer is a distinguished expert in graph labeling.

Graph labeling is a mathematical discipline of graph theory closely related to the field of computer science. It concerns the assignment of values, usually represented by integers, to the edges and/or vertices of a graph. The intended purpose is to meet certain conditions within the graph. Many of the graph labeling methods were motivated by applications to technology and sports tournament scheduling. 

First American University

The first IWOGL session was held in Newcastle, Australia in 2003. Since then, it has been hosted in Indonesia, Slovakia, China, India, and Australia for a second time.

UMD Mathematics and Statistics Professor Dalibor Froncek was on the program organizing committee for the workshop. "We were very pleased with the turnout," Froncek said. "We had more people come than we expected from all different countries, and many are leaders in the field."

UMD was chosen to host this workshop because two well-known figures in the field of graph theory are on the faculty: Dalibor Froncek and Joseph Gallian.

While studying for his Ph.D. at McMaster University in Canada, Froncek worked under Alexander Rosa. Rosa, now Emeritus Professor, is credited with being the founder of graph labeling. Professor Mirka Miller, the University of Newcastle, Australia is responsible for the formation of the IWOGL meeting.

The host organizing committee included five undergraduate and graduate students. Yue Yuan, a second graduate student in applied and computational mathematics, said the conference provided an excellent opportunity for him. "It's interesting to meet new people from around the world," Yuan said. "It was a great experience to organize an international workshop."

Presenting Findings

Among the topics presented by the speakers were magic graphs, hypertrees, orthogonal labeling, and balance graphs. The keynote and invited speakers are considered leaders in the field. Some have written close to 100 papers on the topic.

UMD Mathematics Professor Joseph Gallian‘s presentation “Living with the Labeling Disease for 25 Years" traced the growth in interest in graph labeling over the past 25 years. Gallian was attracted to graph labeling problems because they provide an excellent introductory topic for mathematical research. The start up time to work on unsolved problems is shorter than that in many other areas.

Gallian said, "The topic of graph labeling is like a disease. It takes over your brain, and you can't stop thinking about it." Gallian maintains an up-to-date account of research on graph labeling that is published annually in the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics. It contains nearly 1,200 references. Many of the major contributors to the field were present at the UMD IWOGL session.

Differences Mean Nothing

UMD alumna, Leah Tollefson, also contributed to the workshop. She graduated from UMD in May 2010 with a double major in Mathematics and Statistics and currently works at Securian Financial Group in the retirement department. She presented her findings from her honors undergraduate research on rosy labeling of kayak paddles.

"It's great to be exposed to different and brilliant people from all cultures," Tollefson said. "This workshop helped me realize that we are not that different. Many of the speakers live halfway across the world, but are looking at the same math problems as us. It's really humbling."

University Success

The field of graph labeling is a rapidly expanding field with contributions from all over the world. Many of the published papers come from India and China, but UMD has two leading scholars as well. "We are very proud that UMD is the first American university to host this workshop," Froncek said. "It just shows the strength of our department and our university."

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Written by Mandee Kugli, edited by Cheryl Reitan

People from across the world attended the conference. The keynote speakers included: S. Arumugam, Kalasalingam University, India, Joseph Gallian, University of Minnesota Duluth, U.S.A., Uwe Leck, University of Wisconsin-Superior, U.S.A., and Alexander Rosa, McMaster University, Canada. The organizing committee included Dalibor Froncek (Chair) UMD, along with Sergei Bezrukov and Steven Rosenberg from UWS.









students galliangroup leah
UMD students Ann Litersky (l-r), Amy Schmidt and Yue Yuan helped organize the workshop. Participants (l-r): Akito Oshima, (Japan), Sudhakar Shetty (Alvas Institute of Engineering and Technology, India), Joseph Gallian (UMD Professor), Jay Bagga (Ball State University) and S. Arumugam (Kalasalingam University, India). Leah Tollefson presented her findings on rosy labels.


UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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