(related to Proposition: Connectivity Is an Equivalence Relation - Components Are a Partition of a Graph)

From the definition of connectivity in a directed (or undirected) graph \(G(V,E)\) it follows that two vertices \(x,y\in V\) are connected (strongly connected), if there is a path from \(x\) to \(y\) (respectively also from \(y\) to \(x\). We define the relation "\(\leftrightarrow\)" as follows:

\[x\leftrightarrow y\Longleftrightarrow x\text{ and }y\text{ are (strongly) connected.}\]

It is sufficient to show that "\(\leftrightarrow\)" defines an equivalence relation on the set \(V\), because then it follows immediately that any vertex \(v\in V\) can be chosen as a representative of a unique equivalence class of vertices \(V'\in V/_\leftrightarrow\) such that the subgraphs (respectively subdigraphs) \(G[V']\) contain the vertex \(v\).

We have to show three properties of "\(\leftrightarrow\)" in order to prove, that it is an equivalence relation:

\((1)\) Reflexivity: \(x\leftrightarrow x\) for all \(x\in V\) This is trivial, since any vertex is connected to itself.

\((2)\) Symmetry: \(x\leftrightarrow y\Longleftrightarrow y\leftrightarrow x\) for all \(x,y\in V\) This follows immediately from the definition of connectivity (strong connectivity) of \(G\).

\((3)\) Transitivity: If \(x\leftrightarrow y\) and \(y\leftrightarrow z\), then \(x\leftrightarrow z\) for all \(x,y,z\in V\) If \(P_1=v_0v_1\ldots v_k\) is a path from \(x\) to \(y\) and \(P_2=u_0u_1\ldots u_l\) from \(y\) to \(z\), then we have \(v_0=x\), \(v_k=u_0=y\) and \(u_l=z\). Thus, we can merge both path and create the walk\[W:=v_0v_1\ldots v_ku_1\ldots u_l\]from \(x\) to \(z\). In general, this walk is not a path, since it may contain some identical vertices other then \(v_k=u_0\). In this case, the walk contains cycles, and we can "short-cut" the walk to create a path by removing any detours. Since, by construction, such a path from \(x\) to \(z\) always exists, we have \(x\leftrightarrow z\).

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  1. Krumke S. O., Noltemeier H.: "Graphentheoretische Konzepte und Algorithmen", Teubner, 2005, 1st Edition