Min-Cost Flow in Unit-Capacity Planar Graphs

Authors Adam Karczmarz , Piotr Sankowski

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Adam Karczmarz
  • Institute of Informatics, University of Warsaw, Poland
Piotr Sankowski
  • Institute of Informatics, University of Warsaw, Poland

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Adam Karczmarz and Piotr Sankowski. Min-Cost Flow in Unit-Capacity Planar Graphs. In 27th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 144, pp. 66:1-66:17, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


In this paper we give an O~((nm)^(2/3) log C) time algorithm for computing min-cost flow (or min-cost circulation) in unit capacity planar multigraphs where edge costs are integers bounded by C. For planar multigraphs, this improves upon the best known algorithms for general graphs: the O~(m^(10/7) log C) time algorithm of Cohen et al. [SODA 2017], the O(m^(3/2) log(nC)) time algorithm of Gabow and Tarjan [SIAM J. Comput. 1989] and the O~(sqrt(n) m log C) time algorithm of Lee and Sidford [FOCS 2014]. In particular, our result constitutes the first known fully combinatorial algorithm that breaks the Omega(m^(3/2)) time barrier for min-cost flow problem in planar graphs. To obtain our result we first give a very simple successive shortest paths based scaling algorithm for unit-capacity min-cost flow problem that does not explicitly operate on dual variables. This algorithm also runs in O~(m^(3/2) log C) time for general graphs, and, to the best of our knowledge, it has not been described before. We subsequently show how to implement this algorithm faster on planar graphs using well-established tools: r-divisions and efficient algorithms for computing (shortest) paths in so-called dense distance graphs.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Network flows
  • minimum-cost flow
  • minimum-cost circulation
  • planar graphs


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