On Lower Bounds of Approximating Parameterized k-Clique

Authors Bingkai Lin, Xuandi Ren, Yican Sun, Xiuhan Wang

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Author Details

Bingkai Lin
  • Nanjing University, China
Xuandi Ren
  • Peking University, Beijing, China
Yican Sun
  • Peking University, Beijing, China
Xiuhan Wang
  • Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

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Bingkai Lin, Xuandi Ren, Yican Sun, and Xiuhan Wang. On Lower Bounds of Approximating Parameterized k-Clique. In 49th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 229, pp. 90:1-90:18, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


Given a simple graph G and an integer k, the goal of the k-Clique problem is to decide if G contains a complete subgraph of size k. We say an algorithm approximates k-Clique within a factor g(k) if it can find a clique of size at least k/g(k) when G is guaranteed to have a k-clique. Recently, it was shown that approximating k-Clique within a constant factor is W[1]-hard [Bingkai Lin, 2021]. We study the approximation of k-Clique under the Exponential Time Hypothesis (ETH). The reduction of [Bingkai Lin, 2021] already implies an n^Ω(√[6]{log k})-time lower bound under ETH. We improve this lower bound to n^Ω(log k). Using the gap-amplification technique by expander graphs, we also prove that there is no k^o(1) factor FPT-approximation algorithm for k-Clique under ETH. We also suggest a new way to prove the Parameterized Inapproximability Hypothesis (PIH) under ETH. We show that if there is no n^O(k/(log k))-time algorithm to approximate k-Clique within a constant factor, then PIH is true.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Problems, reductions and completeness
  • parameterized complexity
  • k-clique
  • hardness of approximation


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