On Finding Short Reconfiguration Sequences Between Independent Sets

Authors Akanksha Agrawal, Soumita Hait, Amer E. Mouawad

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Author Details

Akanksha Agrawal
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India
Soumita Hait
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
Amer E. Mouawad
  • American University of Beirut, Lebanon
  • Universität Bremen, Germany

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Akanksha Agrawal, Soumita Hait, and Amer E. Mouawad. On Finding Short Reconfiguration Sequences Between Independent Sets. In 33rd International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 248, pp. 39:1-39:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


Assume we are given a graph G, two independent sets S and T in G of size k ≥ 1, and a positive integer 𝓁 ≥ 1. The goal is to decide whether there exists a sequence ⟨ I₀, I₁, ..., I_𝓁 ⟩ of independent sets such that for all j ∈ {0,…,𝓁-1} the set I_j is an independent set of size k, I₀ = S, I_𝓁 = T, and I_{j+1} is obtained from I_j by a predetermined reconfiguration rule. We consider two reconfiguration rules, namely token sliding and token jumping. Intuitively, we view each independent set as a collection of tokens placed on the vertices of the graph. Then, the Token Sliding Optimization (TSO) problem asks whether there exists a sequence of at most 𝓁 steps that transforms S into T, where at each step we are allowed to slide one token from a vertex to an unoccupied neighboring vertex (while maintaining independence). In the Token Jumping Optimization (TJO) problem, at each step, we are allowed to jump one token from a vertex to any other unoccupied vertex of the graph (as long as we maintain independence). Both TSO and TJO are known to be fixed-parameter tractable when parameterized by 𝓁 on nowhere dense classes of graphs. In this work, we investigate the boundary of tractability for sparse classes of graphs. We show that both problems are fixed-parameter tractable for parameter k + 𝓁 + d on d-degenerate graphs as well as for parameter |M| + 𝓁 + Δ on graphs having a modulator M whose deletion leaves a graph of maximum degree Δ. We complement these result by showing that for parameter 𝓁 alone both problems become W[1]-hard already on 2-degenerate graphs. Our positive result makes use of the notion of independence covering families introduced by Lokshtanov et al. [Daniel Lokshtanov et al., 2020]. Finally, we show as a side result that using such families we can obtain a simpler and unified algorithm for the standard Token Jumping Reachability problem (a.k.a. Token Jumping) parameterized by k on both degenerate and nowhere dense classes of graphs.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Parameterized complexity and exact algorithms
  • Token sliding
  • token jumping
  • fixed-parameter tractability
  • combinatorial reconfiguration
  • shortest reconfiguration sequence


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