Cutting Bamboo down to Size

Authors Davide Bilò , Luciano Gualà , Stefano Leucci , Guido Proietti , Giacomo Scornavacca

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Author Details

Davide Bilò
  • Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sassari, Italy
Luciano Gualà
  • Department of Enterprise Engineering, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Italy
Stefano Leucci
  • Department of Information Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, University of L'Aquila, Italy
Guido Proietti
  • Department of Information Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, University of L'Aquila, Italy
  • Institute for System Analysis and Computer Science "Antonio Ruberti" (IASI CNR), Rome, Italy
Giacomo Scornavacca
  • Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sassari, Italy


The authors would like to thank Francesca Marmigi for the picture of the robotic panda gardener in Figure 1. We are also grateful to an anonymous reviewer whose comments allowed us to significantly simplify the analysis of Reduce-Max.

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Davide Bilò, Luciano Gualà, Stefano Leucci, Guido Proietti, and Giacomo Scornavacca. Cutting Bamboo down to Size. In 10th International Conference on Fun with Algorithms (FUN 2021). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 157, pp. 5:1-5:18, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


This paper studies the problem of programming a robotic panda gardener to keep a bamboo garden from obstructing the view of the lake by your house. The garden consists of n bamboo stalks with known daily growth rates and the gardener can cut at most one bamboo per day. As a computer scientist, you found out that this problem has already been formalized in [Gąsieniec et al., SOFSEM'17] as the Bamboo Garden Trimming (BGT) problem, where the goal is that of computing a perpetual schedule (i.e., the sequence of bamboos to cut) for the robotic gardener to follow in order to minimize the makespan, i.e., the maximum height ever reached by a bamboo. Two natural strategies are Reduce-Max and Reduce-Fastest(x). Reduce-Max trims the tallest bamboo of the day, while Reduce-Fastest(x) trims the fastest growing bamboo among the ones that are taller than x. It is known that Reduce-Max and Reduce-Fastest(x) achieve a makespan of O(log n) and 4 for the best choice of x = 2, respectively. We prove the first constant upper bound of 9 for Reduce-Max and improve the one for Reduce-Fastest(x) to (3+√5)/2 < 2.62 for x = 1+1/√5. Another critical aspect stems from the fact that your robotic gardener has a limited amount of processing power and memory. It is then important for the algorithm to be able to quickly determine the next bamboo to cut while requiring at most linear space. We formalize this aspect as the problem of designing a Trimming Oracle data structure, and we provide three efficient Trimming Oracles implementing different perpetual schedules, including those produced by Reduce-Max and Reduce-Fastest(x).

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Approximation algorithms analysis
  • bamboo garden trimming
  • trimming oracles
  • approximation algorithms
  • pinwheel scheduling


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