Terminal Embeddings

Authors Michael Elkin, Arnold Filtser, Ofer Neiman

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Michael Elkin
Arnold Filtser
Ofer Neiman

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Michael Elkin, Arnold Filtser, and Ofer Neiman. Terminal Embeddings. In Approximation, Randomization, and Combinatorial Optimization. Algorithms and Techniques (APPROX/RANDOM 2015). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 40, pp. 242-264, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2015)


In this paper we study terminal embeddings, in which one is given a finite metric (X,d_X) (or a graph G=(V,E)) and a subset K of X of its points are designated as terminals. The objective is to embed the metric into a normed space, while approximately preserving all distances among pairs that contain a terminal. We devise such embeddings in various settings, and conclude that even though we have to preserve approx |K| * |X| pairs, the distortion depends only on |K|, rather than on |X|. We also strengthen this notion, and consider embeddings that approximately preserve the distances between all pairs, but provide improved distortion for pairs containing a terminal. Surprisingly, we show that such embeddings exist in many settings, and have optimal distortion bounds both with respect to X \times X and with respect to K * X. Moreover, our embeddings have implications to the areas of Approximation and Online Algorithms. In particular, Arora et. al. devised an ~O(sqrt(log(r))-approximation algorithm for sparsest-cut instances with r demands. Building on their framework, we provide an ~O(sqrt(log |K|)-approximation for sparsest-cut instances in which each demand is incident on one of the vertices of K (aka, terminals). Since |K| <= r, our bound generalizes that of Arora et al.
  • embedding
  • distortion
  • terminals


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