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Continuing the investigations of Harborth (1974) and the author (2002) we study the following basic problem on sphere packings. Recall that the contact graph of an arbitrary finite packing of unit balls (i.e., of an arbitrary finite family of non-overlapping unit balls) in Euclidean 3-space is the (simple) graph whose vertices correspond to the packing elements and whose two vertices are connected by an edge if the corresponding two packing elements touch each other. One of the most basic questions on contact graphs is to find the maximum number of edges that a contact graph of a packing of n unit balls can have in Euclidean 3-space. Our method for finding lower and upper estimates for the largest contact numbers is a combination of analytic and combinatorial ideas and it is based on the underlying (truncated) Voronoi diagrams of finite sphere packings.
Date of Conference: 27-29 June 2012