# The Riemann-Hurwitz formula for regular graphs

A little over 10 years ago, M. Baker and S. Norine (I’ve also seen this name spelled Norin) wrote a terrific paper on harmonic morphisms between simple, connected graphs (see “Harmonic morphisms and hyperelliptic graphs” – you can find a downloadable pdf on the internet of you google for it). Roughly speaking, a harmonic function on a graph is a function in the kernel of the graph Laplacian. A harmonic morphism between graphs is, roughly speaking, a map from one graph to another that preserves harmonic functions.

They proved quite a few interesting results but one of the most interesting, I think, is their graph-theoretic analog of the Riemann-Hurwitz formula. We define the genus of a simple connected graph $\Gamma = (V,E)$ to be

${\rm genus}(\Gamma) = |E| - |V | + 1.$

It represents the minimum number of edges that must be removed from the graph to make it into a tree (so, a tree has genus 0).

Riemann-Hurwitz formula (Baker and Norine): Let $\phi:\Gamma_2\to \Gamma_1$ be a harmonic morphism from a graph $\Gamma_2 = (V_2,E_2)$ to a graph $\Gamma_1 = (V_1, E_1)$. Then

${\rm genus}(\Gamma_2)-1 = {\rm deg}(\phi)({\rm genus}(\Gamma_1)-1)+\sum_{x\in V_2} [m_\phi(x)+\frac{1}{2}\nu_\phi(x)-1].$

I’m not going to define them here but $m_\phi(x)$ denotes the horizontal multiplicity and $\nu_\phi(x)$ denotes the vertical multiplicity.

I simply want to record a very easy corollary to this, assuming $\Gamma_2 = (V_2,E_2)$ is $k_2$-regular and $\Gamma_1 = (V_1, E_1)$ is $k_1$-regular.

Corollary: Let $\Gamma_2 \rightarrow \Gamma_1$ be a non-trivial harmonic morphism from a connected $k_2$-regular graph
to a connected $k_1$-regular graph.
Then

$\sum_{x\in V_2}\nu_\phi(x) = k_2|V_2| - k_1|V_1|\deg (\phi).$