Matroids and graphs with few non-essential elements

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An essential element of a 3-connected matroid M is one for which neither the deletion nor the contraction 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. In an earlier paper, the authors showed that a 3-connected matroid with at least one non-essential element has at least two such elements. This paper completely determines all 3-connected matroids with exactly two non-essential elements. Furthermore, it is proved that every 3-connected matroid M for which no single-element contraction is 3-connected can be constructed from a similar such matroid whose rank equals the rank in M of the set of elements e for which the deletion M\e is 3-connected. © Springer-Verlag 2000.

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Graphs and Combinatorics

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