Unconstraining Graph-Constrained Group Testing

Authors Bruce Spang, Mary Wootters

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Bruce Spang
  • Stanford University, CA, USA
Mary Wootters
  • Stanford University, CA, USA


We thank Clément Canonne, Nick McKeown and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

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Bruce Spang and Mary Wootters. Unconstraining Graph-Constrained Group Testing. In Approximation, Randomization, and Combinatorial Optimization. Algorithms and Techniques (APPROX/RANDOM 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 145, pp. 46:1-46:20, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


In network tomography, one goal is to identify a small set of failed links in a network using as little information as possible. One way of setting up this problem is called graph-constrained group testing. Graph-constrained group testing is a variant of the classical combinatorial group testing problem, where the tests that one is allowed are additionally constrained by a graph. In this case, the graph is given by the underlying network topology. The main contribution of this work is to show that for most graphs, the constraints imposed by the graph are no constraint at all. That is, the number of tests required to identify the failed links in graph-constrained group testing is near-optimal even for the corresponding group testing problem with no graph constraints. Our approach is based on a simple randomized construction of tests. To analyze our construction, we prove new results about the size of giant components in randomly sparsified graphs. Finally, we provide empirical results which suggest that our connected-subgraph tests perform better not just in theory but also in practice, and in particular perform better on a real-world network topology.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Graph algorithms analysis
  • Group testing
  • network tomography
  • random graphs


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