Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society (Series 2)

Research Article

On the Number of Ways of Colouring a Map

Professor George D. Birkhoff

It is well known that any map of n regions on a sphere may be coloured in five or fewer colours. The purpose of the present note is to prove the following

Theorem. If Pn(λ)denotes the number of ways of colouring any ma: of n regions on the sphere in λ (or fewer) colours, then



This inequality obviously holds for λ = 1, 2, 3 so that we may confine attention to the case λ > 4. Furthermore it holds for n = 3, 4 since the first region may be coloured in λ ways, the second in at least λ — 1 ways, the third in at least λ — 2 ways, and the fourth, if there be one, in at least λ — 3 ways.

(Received December 17 1929)

(Revised January 17 1930)