Optimal Distributed Covering Algorithms

Authors Ran Ben-Basat , Guy Even , Ken-ichi Kawarabayashi , Gregory Schwartzman

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Author Details

Ran Ben-Basat
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States
Guy Even
  • Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Ken-ichi Kawarabayashi
  • National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, Japan
Gregory Schwartzman
  • National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, Japan


We thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful remarks.

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Ran Ben-Basat, Guy Even, Ken-ichi Kawarabayashi, and Gregory Schwartzman. Optimal Distributed Covering Algorithms. In 33rd International Symposium on Distributed Computing (DISC 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 146, pp. 5:1-5:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


We present a time-optimal deterministic distributed algorithm for approximating a minimum weight vertex cover in hypergraphs of rank f. This problem is equivalent to the Minimum Weight Set Cover problem in which the frequency of every element is bounded by f. The approximation factor of our algorithm is (f+epsilon). Let Delta denote the maximum degree in the hypergraph. Our algorithm runs in the congest model and requires O(log{Delta} / log log Delta) rounds, for constants epsilon in (0,1] and f in N^+. This is the first distributed algorithm for this problem whose running time does not depend on the vertex weights nor the number of vertices. Thus adding another member to the exclusive family of provably optimal distributed algorithms. For constant values of f and epsilon, our algorithm improves over the (f+epsilon)-approximation algorithm of [Fabian Kuhn et al., 2006] whose running time is O(log Delta + log W), where W is the ratio between the largest and smallest vertex weights in the graph. Our algorithm also achieves an f-approximation for the problem in O(f log n) rounds, improving over the classical result of [Samir Khuller et al., 1994] that achieves a running time of O(f log^2 n). Finally, for weighted vertex cover (f=2) our algorithm achieves a deterministic running time of O(log n), matching the randomized previously best result of [Koufogiannakis and Young, 2011]. We also show that integer covering-programs can be reduced to the Minimum Weight Set Cover problem in the distributed setting. This allows us to achieve an (f+epsilon)-approximate integral solution in O((1+f/log n)* ((log Delta)/(log log Delta) + (f * log M)^{1.01}* log epsilon^{-1}* (log Delta)^{0.01})) rounds, where f bounds the number of variables in a constraint, Delta bounds the number of constraints a variable appears in, and M=max {1, ceil[1/a_{min}]}, where a_{min} is the smallest normalized constraint coefficient. This improves over the results of [Fabian Kuhn et al., 2006] for the integral case, which combined with rounding achieves the same guarantees in O(epsilon^{-4}* f^4 * log f * log(M * Delta)) rounds.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Distributed algorithms
  • Distributed Algorithms
  • Approximation Algorithms
  • Vertex Cover
  • Set Cover


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