Evaluating Restricted First-Order Counting Properties on Nowhere Dense Classes and Beyond

Authors Jan Dreier , Daniel Mock , Peter Rossmanith

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Author Details

Jan Dreier
  • TU Wien, Austria
Daniel Mock
  • RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Peter Rossmanith
  • RWTH Aachen University, Germany

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Jan Dreier, Daniel Mock, and Peter Rossmanith. Evaluating Restricted First-Order Counting Properties on Nowhere Dense Classes and Beyond. In 31st Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 274, pp. 43:1-43:17, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


It is known that first-order logic with some counting extensions can be efficiently evaluated on graph classes with bounded expansion, where depth-r minors have constant density. More precisely, the formulas are ∃ x₁… x_k#y φ(x_1,…,x_k, y) > N, where φ is an FO-formula. If φ is quantifier-free, we can extend this result to nowhere dense graph classes with an almost linear FPT run time. Lifting this result further to slightly more general graph classes, namely almost nowhere dense classes, where the size of depth-r clique minors is subpolynomial, is impossible unless FPT = W[1]. On the other hand, in almost nowhere dense classes we can approximate such counting formulas with a small additive error. Note those counting formulas are contained in FOC({>}) but not FOC₁(𝐏). In particular, it follows that partial covering problems, such as partial dominating set, have fixed parameter algorithms on nowhere dense graph classes with almost linear running time.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Parameterized complexity and exact algorithms
  • Theory of computation → Logic
  • Theory of computation → Computational complexity and cryptography
  • Mathematics of computing → Graph theory
  • nowhere dense
  • sparsity
  • counting logic
  • dominating set
  • FPT


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