Efficient Algorithms and Hardness Results for the Weighted k-Server Problem

Authors Anupam Gupta, Amit Kumar, Debmalya Panigrahi

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Anupam Gupta
  • Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Amit Kumar
  • Computer Science and Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India
Debmalya Panigrahi
  • Computer Science, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

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Anupam Gupta, Amit Kumar, and Debmalya Panigrahi. Efficient Algorithms and Hardness Results for the Weighted k-Server Problem. In Approximation, Randomization, and Combinatorial Optimization. Algorithms and Techniques (APPROX/RANDOM 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 275, pp. 12:1-12:19, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


In this paper, we study the weighted k-server problem on the uniform metric in both the offline and online settings. We start with the offline setting. In contrast to the (unweighted) k-server problem which has a polynomial-time solution using min-cost flows, there are strong computational lower bounds for the weighted k-server problem, even on the uniform metric. Specifically, we show that assuming the unique games conjecture, there are no polynomial-time algorithms with a sub-polynomial approximation factor, even if we use c-resource augmentation for c < 2. Furthermore, if we consider the natural LP relaxation of the problem, then obtaining a bounded integrality gap requires us to use at least 𝓁 resource augmentation, where 𝓁 is the number of distinct server weights. We complement these results by obtaining a constant-approximation algorithm via LP rounding, with a resource augmentation of (2+ε)𝓁 for any constant ε > 0. In the online setting, an exp(k) lower bound is known for the competitive ratio of any randomized algorithm for the weighted k-server problem on the uniform metric. In contrast, we show that 2𝓁-resource augmentation can bring the competitive ratio down by an exponential factor to only O(𝓁² log 𝓁). Our online algorithm uses the two-stage approach of first obtaining a fractional solution using the online primal-dual framework, and then rounding it online.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Online algorithms
  • Online Algorithms
  • Weighted k-server
  • Integrality Gap
  • Hardness


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