Let G be a graph on n vertices and with maximum degree Δ, and let k be an integer. The k-recolouring graph of G is the graph whose vertices are k-colourings of G and where two k-colourings are adjacent if they differ at exactly one vertex. It is well known that the k-recolouring graph is connected for
. Feghali, Johnson and Paulusma (J. Graph Theory 83 (2016) 340–358) showed that the (Δ + 1)-recolouring graph is composed by a unique connected component of size at least 2 and (possibly many) isolated vertices.
In this paper, we study the proportion of isolated vertices (also called frozen colourings) in the (Δ + 1)-recolouring graph. Our first contribution is to show that if G is connected, the proportion of frozen colourings of G is exponentially smaller in n than the total number of colourings. This motivates the use of the Glauber dynamics to approximate the number of (Δ + 1)-colourings of a graph. In contrast to the conjectured mixing time of O(nlog n) for
colours, we show that the mixing time of the Glauber dynamics for (Δ + 1)-colourings restricted to non-frozen colourings can be Ω(n
2). Finally, we prove some results about the existence of graphs with large girth and frozen colourings, and study frozen colourings in random regular graphs.