Optimal PSPACE-Hardness of Approximating Set Cover Reconfiguration

Authors Shuichi Hirahara , Naoto Ohsaka

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Shuichi Hirahara
  • National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, Japan
Naoto Ohsaka
  • CyberAgent, Inc., Tokyo, Japan

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Shuichi Hirahara and Naoto Ohsaka. Optimal PSPACE-Hardness of Approximating Set Cover Reconfiguration. In 51st International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2024). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 297, pp. 85:1-85:18, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2024)


In the Minmax Set Cover Reconfiguration problem, given a set system ℱ over a universe 𝒰 and its two covers 𝒞^start and 𝒞^goal of size k, we wish to transform 𝒞^start into 𝒞^goal by repeatedly adding or removing a single set of ℱ while covering the universe 𝒰 in any intermediate state. Then, the objective is to minimize the maximum size of any intermediate cover during transformation. We prove that Minmax Set Cover Reconfiguration and Minmax Dominating Set Reconfiguration are PSPACE-hard to approximate within a factor of 2-(1/polyloglog N), where N is the size of the universe and the number of vertices in a graph, respectively, improving upon Ohsaka (SODA 2024) [Ohsaka, 2024] and Karthik C. S. and Manurangsi (2023) [Karthik C. S. and Manurangsi, 2023]. This is the first result that exhibits a sharp threshold for the approximation factor of any reconfiguration problem because both problems admit a 2-factor approximation algorithm as per Ito, Demaine, Harvey, Papadimitriou, Sideri, Uehara, and Uno (Theor. Comput. Sci., 2011) [Takehiro Ito et al., 2011]. Our proof is based on a reconfiguration analogue of the FGLSS reduction [Feige et al., 1996] from Probabilistically Checkable Reconfiguration Proofs of Hirahara and Ohsaka (STOC 2024) [Hirahara and Ohsaka, 2024]. We also prove that for any constant ε ∈ (0,1), Minmax Hypergraph Vertex Cover Reconfiguration on poly(ε^-1)-uniform hypergraphs is PSPACE-hard to approximate within a factor of 2-ε.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Problems, reductions and completeness
  • Theory of computation → Interactive proof systems
  • reconfiguration problems
  • hardness of approximation
  • probabilistic proof systems
  • FGLSS reduction


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