The Dispersive Art Gallery Problem

Authors Christian Rieck , Christian Scheffer

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Author Details

Christian Rieck
  • Department of Computer Science, TU Braunschweig, Germany
Christian Scheffer
  • Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Germany


We thank Joseph S.B. Mitchell for bringing this problem to our attention.

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Christian Rieck and Christian Scheffer. The Dispersive Art Gallery Problem. In 33rd International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 248, pp. 67:1-67:18, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


We introduce a new variant of the art gallery problem that comes from safety issues. In this variant we are not interested in guard sets of smallest cardinality, but in guard sets with largest possible distances between these guards. To the best of our knowledge, this variant has not been considered before. We call it the Dispersive Art Gallery Problem. In particular, in the dispersive art gallery problem we are given a polygon 𝒫 and a real number 𝓁, and want to decide whether 𝒫 has a guard set such that every pair of guards in this set is at least a distance of 𝓁 apart. In this paper, we study the vertex guard variant of this problem for the class of polyominoes. We consider rectangular visibility and distances as geodesics in the L₁-metric. Our results are as follows. We give a (simple) thin polyomino such that every guard set has minimum pairwise distances of at most 3. On the positive side, we describe an algorithm that computes guard sets for simple polyominoes that match this upper bound, i.e., the algorithm constructs worst-case optimal solutions. We also study the computational complexity of computing guard sets that maximize the smallest distance between all pairs of guards within the guard sets. We prove that deciding whether there exists a guard set realizing a minimum pairwise distance for all pairs of guards of at least 5 in a given polyomino is NP-complete. We were also able to find an optimal dynamic programming approach that computes a guard set that maximizes the minimum pairwise distance between guards in tree-shaped polyominoes, i.e., computes optimal solutions; due to space constraints, details can be found in the full version of our paper [Christian Rieck and Christian Scheffer, 2022]. Because the shapes constructed in the NP-hardness reduction are thin as well (but have holes), this result completes the case for thin polyominoes.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Computational geometry
  • Art gallery
  • dispersion
  • polyominoes
  • NP-completeness
  • r-visibility
  • vertex guards
  • L₁-metric
  • worst-case optimal


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