Discrete Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science |
A hypergraph $\mathscr{H}$ is $τ$ -critical if $τ (\mathscr{H}-E) < τ (\mathscr{H})$ for every edge $E ∈\mathscr{H}$, where $τ (\mathscr{H})$ denotes the transversal number of $\mathscr{H}$. It can be shown that a connected $τ$ -critical hypergraph $\mathscr{H}$ has at least $2τ (\mathscr{H})-1$ edges; this generalises a classical theorem of Gallai on $χ$ -vertex-critical graphs with connected complements. In this paper we study connected $τ$ -critical hypergraphs $\mathscr{H}$ with exactly $2τ (\mathscr{H)}-1$ edges. We prove that such hypergraphs have at least $2τ (\mathscr{H})-1$ vertices, and characterise those with $2τ (\mathscr{H})-1$ vertices using a directed odd ear decomposition of an associated digraph. Using Seymour's characterisation of $χ$ -critical 3-chromatic square hypergraphs, we also show that a connected square hypergraph $\mathscr{H}$ with fewer than $2τ (\mathscr{H})$ edges is $τ$ -critical if and only if it is $χ$ -critical 3-chromatic. Finally, we deduce some new results on $χ$ -vertex-critical graphs with connected complements.