How many cycles $C_k$ $(k \geq 3)$ are there in a $n $ vertex graph such that graph doesn't have any cycle $C_m$ $(m>k)$.

For example $n=5$, $k=3$, then graph will have at most two $C_3$'s so that $G$ will not have any $C_k (k > 3).$

I am thinking that there are $O(n)$ cycles will be there satisfying above conditions.

Can some one help me out.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ are you talking about vertex-induced cycles? disjoint cycles? $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2013 at 10:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The answer may depend on the parity of $m-k$. For example, consider a balanced blow-up of a 5-cycle. This graph contains no 6-cycles, but it contains $\Theta(n^5)$ induced 5-cycles. $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2013 at 10:32
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @IgorShinkar I read the question as "what is the maximum number of $k$-cycles in an $n$-vertex graph that has no $m$-cycle for any $m > k$?" so $m$ is not a parameter, it's universally quantified $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2013 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ I assume you're talking about induced cycles (holes). If you want the minimum number, it's surely 0, an empty graph. If you want the maximum number, it is n^3 for k=3 (consider a complete graph). $\endgroup$
    – Yixin Cao
    Sep 28, 2013 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ @YixinCao For k=3, If you consider a complete graph with 'n' vertices then we will have cycle whose length is more than 3. I am looking for maximum number cycles of length k in a graph such that graph shouldn't contain any cycle of length more than k $\endgroup$
    – Kumar
    Sep 29, 2013 at 6:23

2 Answers 2


It is not $O(n)$ unless $k=3$. For $k$ even, the maximum length of a cycle in the complete bipartite graph $K_{n,k/2}$ is $k$, and the number of length-$k$ cycles is $(\frac{k}{2}-1)! n^{k/2}=\Theta(n^{k/2})$. For instance, $K_{2,n}$ has a quadratic number of 4-cycles, but no cycles longer than 4.

On the other hand, for any constant bound $k$ on the length of the longest cycle, the number of triangles really is $O(n)$. Here's a quick proof: in a depth first search tree, each edge goes from the lower of its two endpoints to an ancestor at most $k-1$ steps back, so any leaf of the tree has degree at most $k-1$ and belongs to at most $\binom{k-1}{2}$ triangles. Now remove the leaf and induct.

  • $\begingroup$ yes, you are right :) $\endgroup$
    – virgi
    Feb 4, 2014 at 7:28

I wrote a short clingo program to check the small values (it can quickly handle graphs of up to 7 vertices. Beyond that, the grounding can take quite a while):

I got this table

                            n (vertices)
                         3   4   5   6   7

                      3  1   1   2   2   3

                      4      3   3   6  10

k (cycle length)      5         12  12  12

                      6             60  60

                      7                360

Here's the program:

ncontains(empty,K) :- num(K).
is_sym_order(cons(K,empty),1) :- num(K).
last(cons(K,empty), K) :- num(K).
is_sym_order(cons(K,S),M+1) :- is_sym_order(S,M), ncontains(S,K), last(S,L), K > L.
ncontains(cons(K,S), J) :- J != K, ncontains(S,J), is_sym_order(cons(K,S),_).
last(cons(K,S), L) :- last(S,L), is_sym_order(cons(K,S),_).
sec_last(cons(A,S),A) :- is_sym_order(cons(A,S),2).
sec_last(cons(K,S), SL) :- sec_last(S,SL), is_sym_order(cons(K,S),_).
is_sub_order(cons(A,S), M) :- A > SL, sec_last(S,SL), is_sym_order(cons(A,S), M).

{is_edge(V,W)} :- vertex(V), vertex(W), V < W.
sym_edge(V,W;W,V) :- is_edge(V,W).

is_path(cons(V,empty)) :- vertex(V).

is_path(cons(A,cons(B,S))) :- is_path(cons(B,S)), sym_edge(A,B), is_sym_order(cons(A,cons(B,S)),_).
is_cycle(cons(A,S)) :- is_path(cons(A,S)), is_edge(V,A), last(S,V), is_sub_order(cons(A,S),M), M >= k.

:- is_cycle(S), is_sub_order(S,M), M > k.
prim_cycle(S) :- is_cycle(S), is_sub_order(S,k).
:~ not is_cycle(S), is_sub_order(S,k).[1,S]

num_cycs(C) :- C = #count{is_cycle(S):is_cycle(S)}.
#show is_edge/2.
#show num_cycs/1.
#show prim_cycle/1.

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