Cluster Editing with Overlapping Communities

Authors Emmanuel Arrighi , Matthias Bentert, Pål Grønås Drange , Blair D. Sullivan , Petra Wolf

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Emmanuel Arrighi
  • University of Trier, Germany
Matthias Bentert
  • University of Bergen, Norway
Pål Grønås Drange
  • University of Bergen, Norway
Blair D. Sullivan
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Petra Wolf
  • University of Bergen, Norway

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Emmanuel Arrighi, Matthias Bentert, Pål Grønås Drange, Blair D. Sullivan, and Petra Wolf. Cluster Editing with Overlapping Communities. In 18th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 285, pp. 2:1-2:12, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


Cluster Editing, also known as correlation clustering, is a well-studied graph modification problem. In this problem, one is given a graph and allowed to perform up to k edge additions and deletions to transform it into a cluster graph, i.e., a graph consisting of a disjoint union of cliques. However, in real-world networks, clusters are often overlapping. For example, in social networks, a person might belong to several communities - e.g. those corresponding to work, school, or neighborhood. Another strong motivation comes from language networks where trying to cluster words with similar usage can be confounded by homonyms, that is, words with multiple meanings like "bat". The recently introduced operation of vertex splitting is one natural approach to incorporating such overlap into Cluster Editing. First used in the context of graph drawing, this operation allows a vertex v to be replaced by two vertices whose combined neighborhood is the neighborhood of v (and thus v can belong to more than one cluster). The problem of transforming a graph into a cluster graph using at most k edge additions, edge deletions, or vertex splits is called Cluster Editing with Vertex Splitting and is known to admit a polynomial kernel with respect to k and an O(9^{k²} + n + m)-time (parameterized) algorithm. However, it was not known whether the problem is NP-hard, a question which was originally asked by Abu-Khzam et al. [Combinatorial Optimization, 2018]. We answer this in the affirmative. We further give an improved algorithm running in O(2^{7klog k} + n + m) time.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Graph algorithms
  • graph modification
  • correlation clustering
  • vertex splitting
  • NP-hardness
  • parameterized algorithm


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