Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


A graph is geodetic if each two vertices are joined by a unique shortest path. The problem of characterizing such graphs was posed by Ore in 1962; although the geodetic graphs of diameter two have been described and classified by Stemple and Kantor, little is known of the structure of geodetic graphs in general. In this work, geodetic graphs are studied in the context of convexity in graphs: for a suitable family (PI) of paths in a graph G, an induced subgraph H of G is defined to be (PI)-convex if the vertex-set of H includes all vertices of G lying on paths in (PI) joining two vertices of H. Then G is (PI)-geodetic if each (PI)-convex hull of two vertices is a path. For the family (GAMMA) of geodesics (shortest paths) in G, the (GAMMA)-geodetic graphs are exactly the geodetic graphs of the original definition. For various families (PI), the (PI)-geodetic graphs are characterized. The central results concern the family (UPSILON) of chordless paths of length no greater than the diameter; the (UPSILON)-geodetic graphs are called ultrageodetic. For graphs of diameter one or two, the ultrageodetic graphs are exactly the geodetic graphs. A geometry (P,L,F) consists of an arbitrary set P, an arbitrary set L, and a set F (L-HOOK EQ) P x L. The point-flag graph of a geometry is defined here to be the graph with vertex-set P (UNION) F whose edges are the pairs {p,(p,1)} and {(p,1),(q,1)} with p,q (ELEM) P, 1 (ELEM) L, and (p,1),(q,1) (ELEM) F. With the aid of the Feit-Higman theorem on the nonexistence of generalized polygons and the collected results of Fuglister, Damerell-Georgiacodis, and Damerell on the nonexistence of Moore geometries, it is shown that two-connected ultrageodetic graphs of diameter greater than two are precisely the graphs obtained via the subdivision, with a constant number of new vertices, either of all of the edges incident with a single vertex in a complete graph, or of all edges of the form {p,(p,1)} in the point-flag graph of a finite projective plane.