Rapid Mixing for the Hardcore Glauber Dynamics and Other Markov Chains in Bounded-Treewidth Graphs

Authors David Eppstein, Daniel Frishberg

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David Eppstein
  • Department of Computer Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Daniel Frishberg
  • Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA


The authors wish to acknowledge a number of helpful conversations on this topic with Milena Mihail, Ioannis Panageas, Eric Vigoda, Charlie Carlson, and Zongchen Chen, as well as with Karthik Gajulapalli, Hadi Khodabande, and Pedro Matias.

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David Eppstein and Daniel Frishberg. Rapid Mixing for the Hardcore Glauber Dynamics and Other Markov Chains in Bounded-Treewidth Graphs. In 34th International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 283, pp. 30:1-30:13, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


We give a new rapid mixing result for a natural random walk on the independent sets of a graph G. We show that when G has bounded treewidth, this random walk - known as the Glauber dynamics for the hardcore model - mixes rapidly for all fixed values of the standard parameter λ > 0, giving a simple alternative to existing sampling algorithms for these structures. We also show rapid mixing for analogous Markov chains on dominating sets, b-edge covers, b-matchings, maximal independent sets, and maximal b-matchings. (For b-matchings, maximal independent sets, and maximal b-matchings we also require bounded degree.) Our results imply simpler alternatives to known algorithms for the sampling and approximate counting problems in these graphs. We prove our results by applying a divide-and-conquer framework we developed in a previous paper, as an alternative to the projection-restriction technique introduced by Jerrum, Son, Tetali, and Vigoda. We extend this prior framework to handle chains for which the application of that framework is not straightforward, strengthening existing results by Dyer, Goldberg, and Jerrum and by Heinrich for the Glauber dynamics on q-colorings of graphs of bounded treewidth and bounded degree.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Random walks and Markov chains
  • Glauber dynamics
  • mixing time
  • projection-restriction
  • multicommodity flow


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