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Approximability of the Discrete Fréchet Distance

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Abstract

The Fréchet distance is a popular and widespread distance measure for point sequences and for curves. About two years ago, Agarwal et al [SIAM J. Comput. 2014] presented a new (mildly) subquadratic algorithm for the discrete version of the problem. This spawned a flurry of activity that has led to several new algorithms and lower bounds. In this paper, we study the approximability of the discrete Fréchet distance. Building on a recent result by Bringmann [FOCS 2014], we present a new conditional lower bound that strongly subquadratic algorithms for the discrete Fréchet distance are unlikely to exist, even in the one-dimensional case and even if the solution may be approximated up to a factor of 1.399. This raises the question of how well we can approximate the Fréchet distance (of two given d-dimensional point sequences of length n) in strongly subquadratic time. Previously, no general results were known. We present the first such algorithm by analysing the approximation ratio of a simple, linear-time greedy algorithm to be 2^Theta(n). Moreover, we design an alpha-approximation algorithm that runs in time O(n log n + n^2 / alpha), for any alpha in [1, n]. Hence, an n^epsilon-approximation of the Fréchet distance can be computed in strongly subquadratic time, for any epsilon > 0.

BibTeX - Entry

@InProceedings{bringmann_et_al:LIPIcs:2015:5107,
  author =	{Karl Bringmann and Wolfgang Mulzer},
  title =	{{Approximability of the Discrete Fr{\'e}chet Distance}},
  booktitle =	{31st International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2015)},
  pages =	{739--753},
  series =	{Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)},
  ISBN =	{978-3-939897-83-5},
  ISSN =	{1868-8969},
  year =	{2015},
  volume =	{34},
  editor =	{Lars Arge and J{\'a}nos Pach},
  publisher =	{Schloss Dagstuhl--Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik},
  address =	{Dagstuhl, Germany},
  URL =		{http://drops.dagstuhl.de/opus/volltexte/2015/5107},
  URN =		{urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-51072},
  doi =		{10.4230/LIPIcs.SOCG.2015.739},
  annote =	{Keywords: Fr{\'e}chet distance, approximation, lower bounds, Strong Exponential Time Hypothesis}
}

Keywords: Fréchet distance, approximation, lower bounds, Strong Exponential Time Hypothesis
Seminar: 31st International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2015)
Issue date: 2015
Date of publication: 2015


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