The Complexity Landscape of Fixed-Parameter Directed Steiner Network Problems

Authors Andreas Emil Feldmann, Dániel Marx

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Andreas Emil Feldmann
Dániel Marx

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Andreas Emil Feldmann and Dániel Marx. The Complexity Landscape of Fixed-Parameter Directed Steiner Network Problems. In 43rd International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2016). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 55, pp. 27:1-27:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2016)


Given a directed graph G and a list (s_1, t_1), ..., (s_k, t_k) of terminal pairs, the Directed Steiner Network problem asks for a minimum-cost subgraph of G that contains a directed s_i -> t_i path for every 1 <= i <= k. The special case Directed Steiner Tree (when we ask for paths from a root r to terminals t_1, . . . , t_k) is known to be fixed-parameter tractable parameterized by the number of terminals, while the special case Strongly Connected Steiner Subgraph (when we ask for a path from every t_i to every other t_j ) is known to be W[1]-hard parameterized by the number of terminals. We systematically explore the complexity landscape of directed Steiner problems to fully understand which other special cases are FPT or W[1]-hard. Formally, if H is a class of directed graphs, then we look at the special case of Directed Steiner Network where the list (s_1, t_1), ..., (s_k, t_k) of requests form a directed graph that is a member of H. Our main result is a complete characterization of the classes H resulting in fixed-parameter tractable special cases: we show that if every pattern in H has the combinatorial property of being "transitively equivalent to a bounded-length caterpillar with a bounded number of extra edges," then the problem is FPT, and it is W[1]-hard for every recursively enumerable H not having this property. This complete dichotomy unifies and generalizes the known results showing that Directed Steiner Tree is FPT [Dreyfus and Wagner, Networks 1971], Strongly Connected Steiner Subgraph is W[1]-hard [Guo et al., SIAM J. Discrete Math. 2011], and Directed Steiner Network is solvable in polynomial-time for constant number of terminals [Feldman and Ruhl, SIAM J. Comput. 2006], and moreover reveals a large continent of tractable cases that were not known before.
  • Directed Steiner Tree
  • Directed Steiner Network
  • fixed-parameter tractability
  • dichotomy


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