Let f be a drawing in the Euclidean plane of a graph G, which is understood to be a 1-dimensional simplicial complex. We assume that every edge of G is drawn by f as a curve of constant algebraic complexity, and the ratio of the length of the longest simple path to the the length of the shortest edge is poly(n). In the drawing f, a path P of G, or its image in the drawing π=f(P), is β-stretch if π is a simple (non-self-intersecting) curve, and for every pair of distinct points p∈P and q∈P, the length of the sub-curve of π connecting f(p) with f(q) is at most β||f(p)-f(q)‖, where ‖.‖ denotes the Euclidean distance. We introduce and study the β-stretch Path Problem (βSP for short), in which we are given a pair of vertices s and t of G, and we are to decide whether in the given drawing of G there exists a β-stretch path P connecting s and t. The βSP also asks that we output P if it exists.

The βSP quantifies a notion of "near straightness" for paths in a graph G, motivated by gerrymandering regions in a map, where edges of G represent natural geographical/political boundaries that may be chosen to bound election districts. The notion of a β-stretch path naturally extends to cycles, and the extension gives a measure of how gerrymandered a district is. Furthermore, we show that the extension is closely related to several studied measures of local fatness of geometric shapes.

We prove that βSP is strongly NP-complete. We complement this result by giving a quasi-polynomial time algorithm, that for a given ε>0, β∈O(poly(log |V(G)|)), and s,t∈V(G), outputs a β-stretch path between s and t, if a (1-ε)β-stretch path between s and t exists in the drawing.