Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James G. Oxley


This dissertation studies connectivity for matroids and graphs. The main results generalize Tutte's Wheels and Whirls Theorem and have numerous applications. In Chapter 2, we prove two structural theorems for 3-connected matroids. An element e of a 3-connected matroid M is essential if neither the deletion M$\\$e nor the contraction M/e is 3-connected. Tutte's Wheels and Whirls Theorem proves that the only 3-connected matroids in which every element is essential are the wheels and whirls. If M is not a wheel or a whirl, we prove that the essential elements of M can be partitioned into classes where two elements are in the same class if M has a fan containing both. In particular, M must have at least two non-essential elements. In the second structural theorem, we show that if M has a fan with 2k or 2k + 1 elements for some $k \geq \ 2$, then M can be obtained by sticking together a (k + 1)-spoked wheel and a certain 3-connected minor of M. In Chapters 3 and 4, we characterize all 3-connected matroids whose set of non-essential elements has rank two. In particular, we completely determine all 3-connected matroids with exactly two non-essential elements. In Chapter 5, we derive some consequences of these results for the 3-connected binary matroids and graphs. We prove that there are exactly six classes of 3-connected binary matroids whose set of non-essential elements has rank two and we prove that there are exactly two classes of graphs, multi-dimensional wheels and twisted wheels, with exactly two non-essential edges. In Chapter 6, we use our first structural theorem to investigate the set of elements e in a 3-connected matroid M such that the simplification of M/e is 3-connected. We get best-possible lower bounds on the number of such elements thereby improving a result which was derived by Cunningham and Seymour independently. We also give some generalizations of the Wheels and Whirls Theorem and the Wheels Theorem.