## A variational approach to the Steiner network problem.(English)Zbl 0734.05040

Summary: Suppose n points are given in the plane. Their coordinates form a 2n- vector X. To study the question of finding the shortest Steiner network S connecting these points, we allow X to vary over a configuration space. In particular, the Steiner ratio conjecture is well suited to this approach and short proofs of the cases $$n=4,5$$ are discussed. The variational approach was used by us to solve other cases of the ratio conjecture $$(n=6$$, see [the authors, “The Steiner ratio conjecture for six points”, J. Comb. Theory, Ser. A. (to appear)] and for arbitrary n points lying on a circle). Recently, Du and Hwang have given a beautiful complete solution of the ratio conjecture, also using a configuration space approach but with convexity as the major idea. We have also solved Graham’s problem to decide when the Steiner network is the same as the minimal spanning tree, for points on a circle and on any convex polygon, again using the variational method.

### MSC:

 05C05 Trees 90C35 Programming involving graphs or networks
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### References:

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