Constructing Light Spanners Deterministically in Near-Linear Time

Authors Stephen Alstrup, Søren Dahlgaard, Arnold Filtser, Morten Stöckel, Christian Wulff-Nilsen

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Author Details

Stephen Alstrup
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Søren Dahlgaard
  • SupWiz, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Arnold Filtser
  • Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Morten Stöckel
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Christian Wulff-Nilsen
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark


We are grateful to Michael Elkin, Ofer Neiman, and Sebastian Forster for fruitful discussions.

Cite AsGet BibTex

Stephen Alstrup, Søren Dahlgaard, Arnold Filtser, Morten Stöckel, and Christian Wulff-Nilsen. Constructing Light Spanners Deterministically in Near-Linear Time. In 27th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 144, pp. 4:1-4:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


Graph spanners are well-studied and widely used both in theory and practice. In a recent breakthrough, Chechik and Wulff-Nilsen [Shiri Chechik and Christian Wulff-Nilsen, 2018] improved the state-of-the-art for light spanners by constructing a (2k-1)(1+epsilon)-spanner with O(n^(1+1/k)) edges and O_epsilon(n^(1/k)) lightness. Soon after, Filtser and Solomon [Arnold Filtser and Shay Solomon, 2016] showed that the classic greedy spanner construction achieves the same bounds. The major drawback of the greedy spanner is its running time of O(mn^(1+1/k)) (which is faster than [Shiri Chechik and Christian Wulff-Nilsen, 2018]). This makes the construction impractical even for graphs of moderate size. Much faster spanner constructions do exist but they only achieve lightness Omega_epsilon(kn^(1/k)), even when randomization is used. The contribution of this paper is deterministic spanner constructions that are fast, and achieve similar bounds as the state-of-the-art slower constructions. Our first result is an O_epsilon(n^(2+1/k+epsilon')) time spanner construction which achieves the state-of-the-art bounds. Our second result is an O_epsilon(m + n log n) time construction of a spanner with (2k-1)(1+epsilon) stretch, O(log k * n^(1+1/k) edges and O_epsilon(log k * n^(1/k)) lightness. This is an exponential improvement in the dependence on k compared to the previous result with such running time. Finally, for the important special case where k=log n, for every constant epsilon>0, we provide an O(m+n^(1+epsilon)) time construction that produces an O(log n)-spanner with O(n) edges and O(1) lightness which is asymptotically optimal. This is the first known sub-quadratic construction of such a spanner for any k = omega(1). To achieve our constructions, we show a novel deterministic incremental approximate distance oracle. Our new oracle is crucial in our construction, as known randomized dynamic oracles require the assumption of a non-adaptive adversary. This is a strong assumption, which has seen recent attention in prolific venues. Our new oracle allows the order of the edge insertions to not be fixed in advance, which is critical as our spanner algorithm chooses which edges to insert based on the answers to distance queries. We believe our new oracle is of independent interest.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Sparsification and spanners
  • Theory of computation → Dynamic graph algorithms
  • Spanners
  • Light Spanners
  • Efficient Construction
  • Deterministic Dynamic Distance Oracle


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