Cut Paths and Their Remainder Structure, with Applications

Authors Massimo Cairo, Shahbaz Khan , Romeo Rizzi , Sebastian Schmidt , Alexandru I. Tomescu , Elia C. Zirondelli

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Author Details

Massimo Cairo
  • Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Finland
Shahbaz Khan
  • Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India
Romeo Rizzi
  • Department of Computer Science, University of Verona, Italy
Sebastian Schmidt
  • Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Finland
Alexandru I. Tomescu
  • Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Finland
Elia C. Zirondelli
  • Department of Mathematics, University of Trento, Italy

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Massimo Cairo, Shahbaz Khan, Romeo Rizzi, Sebastian Schmidt, Alexandru I. Tomescu, and Elia C. Zirondelli. Cut Paths and Their Remainder Structure, with Applications. In 40th International Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Computer Science (STACS 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 254, pp. 17:1-17:17, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


In a strongly connected graph G = (V,E), a cut arc (also called strong bridge) is an arc e ∈ E whose removal makes the graph no longer strongly connected. Equivalently, there exist u,v ∈ V, such that all u-v walks contain e. Cut arcs are a fundamental graph-theoretic notion, with countless applications, especially in reachability problems. In this paper we initiate the study of cut paths, as a generalisation of cut arcs, which we naturally define as those paths P for which there exist u,v ∈ V, such that all u-v walks contain P as subwalk. We first prove various properties of cut paths and define their remainder structures, which we use to present a simple O(m)-time verification algorithm for a cut path (|V| = n, |E| = m). Secondly, we apply cut paths and their remainder structures to improve several reachability problems from bioinformatics, as follows. A walk is called safe if it is a subwalk of every node-covering closed walk of a strongly connected graph. Multi-safety is defined analogously, by considering node-covering sets of closed walks instead. We show that cut paths provide simple O(m)-time algorithms verifying if a walk is safe or multi-safe. For multi-safety, we present the first linear time algorithm, while for safety, we present a simple algorithm where the state-of-the-art employed complex data structures. Finally we show that the simultaneous computation of remainder structures of all subwalks of a cut path can be performed in linear time, since they are related in a structured way. These properties yield an O(mn)-time algorithm outputting all maximal multi-safe walks, improving over the state-of-the-art algorithm running in time O(m²+n³). The results of this paper only scratch the surface in the study of cut paths, and we believe a rich structure of a graph can be revealed, considering the perspective of a path, instead of just an arc.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Applied computing → Computational biology
  • Mathematics of computing → Paths and connectivity problems
  • Theory of computation → Graph algorithms analysis
  • reachability
  • cut arc
  • strong bridge
  • covering walk
  • safety
  • persistence
  • essentiality
  • genome assembly


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