In mathematics, a **universal graph** is an infinite graph that contains *every* finite (or at-most-countable) graph as an induced subgraph. A universal graph of this type was first constructed by R. Rado and is now called the Rado graph or random graph. More recent work has focused on universal graphs for a graph family *F*: that is, an infinite graph belonging to *F* that contains all finite graphs in *F*.

A universal graph for a family *F* of graphs can also refer to a member of a sequence of finite graphs that contains all graphs in *F*; for instance, every finite tree is a subgraph of a sufficiently large hypercube graph so a hypercube can be said to be a universal graph for trees. However it is not the smallest such graph: it is known that there is a universal graph for *n*-node trees with only *n* vertices and O(*n* log *n*) edges, and that this is optimal. A construction based on the planar separator theorem can be used to show that *n*-vertex planar graphs have universal graphs with O(*n*3/2) edges, and that bounded-degree planar graphs have universal graphs with O(*n* log *n*) edges. Sumner's conjecture states that tournaments are universal for polytrees, in the sense that every tournament with 2*n* − 2 vertices contains every polytree with *n* vertices as a subgraph.

A family *F* of graphs has a universal graph of polynomial size, containing every *n*-vertex graph as an induced subgraph, if and only if it has an adjacency labelling scheme in which vertices may be labeled by *O*(log *n*)-bit bitstrings such that an algorithm can determine whether two vertices are adjacent by examining their labels. For, if a universal graph of this type exists, the vertices of any graph in *F* may be labeled by the identities of the corresponding vertices in the universal graph, and conversely if a labeling scheme exists then a universal graph may be constructed having a vertex for every possible label.

In older mathematical terminology, the phrase "universal graph" was sometimes used to denote a complete graph.

### Famous quotes containing the words universal and/or graph:

“It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so *universal* as death should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.”

—Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

“In this Journal, my pen is a delicate needle point, tracing out a *graph* of temperament so as to show its daily fluctuations: grave and gay, up and down, lamentation and revelry, self-love and self-disgust. You get here all my thoughts and opinions, always irresponsible and often contradictory or mutually exclusive, all my moods and vapours, all the varying reactions to environment of this jelly which is I.”

—W.N.P. Barbellion (1889–1919)