Computational Aspects of the Colorful Carathéodory Theorem

Authors Wolfgang Mulzer, Yannik Stein

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Wolfgang Mulzer
Yannik Stein

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Wolfgang Mulzer and Yannik Stein. Computational Aspects of the Colorful Carathéodory Theorem. In 31st International Symposium on Computational Geometry (SoCG 2015). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 34, pp. 44-58, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2015)


Let P_1,...,P_{d+1} be d-dimensional point sets such that the convex hull of each P_i contains the origin. We call the sets P_i color classes, and we think of the points in P_i as having color i. A colorful choice is a set with at most one point of each color. The colorful Caratheodory theorem guarantees the existence of a colorful choice whose convex hull contains the origin. So far, the computational complexity of finding such a colorful choice is unknown. We approach this problem from two directions. First, we consider approximation algorithms: an m-colorful choice is a set that contains at most m points from each color class. We show that for any fixed epsilon > 0, an (epsilon d)-colorful choice containing the origin in its convex hull can be found in polynomial time. This notion of approximation has not been studied before, and it is motivated through the applications of the colorful Caratheodory theorem in the literature. In the second part, we present a natural generalization of the colorful Caratheodory problem: in the Nearest Colorful Polytope problem (NCP), we are given d-dimensional point sets P_1,...,P_n that do not necessarily contain the origin in their convex hulls. The goal is to find a colorful choice whose convex hull minimizes the distance to the origin. We show that computing local optima for the NCP problem is PLS-complete, while computing a global optimum is NP-hard.
  • colorful Carathéodory theorem
  • high-dimensional approximation
  • PLS


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