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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 249, 17th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2022)

We consider the Sparse Hitting Set (Sparse-HS) problem, where we are given a set system (V,ℱ,ℬ) with two families ℱ,ℬ of subsets of the universe V. The task is to find a hitting set for ℱ that minimizes the maximum number of elements in any of the sets of ℬ. This generalizes several problems that have been studied in the literature. Our focus is on determining the complexity of some of these special cases of Sparse-HS with respect to the sparseness k, which is the optimum number of hitting set elements in any set of ℬ (i.e., the value of the objective function).
For the Sparse Vertex Cover (Sparse-VC) problem, the universe is given by the vertex set V of a graph, and ℱ is its edge set. We prove NP-hardness for sparseness k ≥ 2 and polynomial time solvability for k = 1. We also provide a polynomial-time 2-approximation algorithm for any k. A special case of Sparse-VC is Fair Vertex Cover (Fair-VC), where the family ℬ is given by vertex neighbourhoods. For this problem it was open whether it is FPT (or even XP) parameterized by the sparseness k. We answer this question in the negative, by proving NP-hardness for constant k. We also provide a polynomial-time (2-1/k)-approximation algorithm for Fair-VC, which is better than any approximation algorithm possible for Sparse-VC or the Vertex Cover problem (under the Unique Games Conjecture).
We then switch to a different set of problems derived from Sparse-HS related to the highway dimension, which is a graph parameter modelling transportation networks. In recent years a growing literature has shown interesting algorithms for graphs of low highway dimension. To exploit the structure of such graphs, most of them compute solutions to the r-Shortest Path Cover (r-SPC) problem, where r > 0, ℱ contains all shortest paths of length between r and 2r, and ℬ contains all balls of radius 2r. It is known that there is an XP algorithm that computes solutions to r-SPC of sparseness at most h if the input graph has highway dimension h. However it was not known whether a corresponding FPT algorithm exists as well. We prove that r-SPC and also the related r-Highway Dimension (r-HD) problem, which can be used to formally define the highway dimension of a graph, are both W[1]-hard. Furthermore, by the result of Abraham et al. [ICALP 2011] there is a polynomial-time O(log k)-approximation algorithm for r-HD, but for r-SPC such an algorithm is not known. We prove that r-SPC admits a polynomial-time O(log n)-approximation algorithm.

Johannes Blum, Yann Disser, Andreas Emil Feldmann, Siddharth Gupta, and Anna Zych-Pawlewicz. On Sparse Hitting Sets: From Fair Vertex Cover to Highway Dimension. In 17th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 249, pp. 5:1-5:23, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)

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@InProceedings{blum_et_al:LIPIcs.IPEC.2022.5, author = {Blum, Johannes and Disser, Yann and Feldmann, Andreas Emil and Gupta, Siddharth and Zych-Pawlewicz, Anna}, title = {{On Sparse Hitting Sets: From Fair Vertex Cover to Highway Dimension}}, booktitle = {17th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2022)}, pages = {5:1--5:23}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-260-0}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2022}, volume = {249}, editor = {Dell, Holger and Nederlof, Jesper}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.IPEC.2022.5}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-173612}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.IPEC.2022.5}, annote = {Keywords: sparse hitting set, fair vertex cover, highway dimension} }

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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 173, 28th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2020)

Contraction hierarchies (CH) is a prominent preprocessing-based technique that accelerates the computation of shortest paths in road networks by reducing the search space size of a bidirectional Dijkstra run. To explain the practical success of CH, several theoretical upper bounds for the maximum search space size were derived in previous work. For example, it was shown that in minor-closed graph families search space sizes in 𝒪(√n) can be achieved (with n denoting the number of nodes in the graph), and search space sizes in 𝒪(h log D) in graphs of highway dimension h and diameter D. In this paper, we primarily focus on lower bounds. We prove that the average search space size in a so called weak CH is in Ω(b_α) for α ≥ 2/3 where b_α is the size of a smallest α-balanced node separator. This discovery allows us to describe the first approximation algorithm for the average search space size. Our new lower bound also shows that the 𝒪(√n) bound for minor-closed graph families is tight. Furthermore, we deeper investigate the relationship of CH and the highway dimension and skeleton dimension of the graph, and prove new lower bound and incomparability results. Finally, we discuss how lower bounds for strong CH can be obtained from solving a HittingSet problem defined on a set of carefully chosen subgraphs of the input network.

Johannes Blum and Sabine Storandt. Lower Bounds and Approximation Algorithms for Search Space Sizes in Contraction Hierarchies. In 28th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 173, pp. 20:1-20:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)

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@InProceedings{blum_et_al:LIPIcs.ESA.2020.20, author = {Blum, Johannes and Storandt, Sabine}, title = {{Lower Bounds and Approximation Algorithms for Search Space Sizes in Contraction Hierarchies}}, booktitle = {28th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2020)}, pages = {20:1--20:14}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-162-7}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2020}, volume = {173}, editor = {Grandoni, Fabrizio and Herman, Grzegorz and Sanders, Peter}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.ESA.2020.20}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-128861}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.ESA.2020.20}, annote = {Keywords: contraction hierarchies, search space size, balanced separator, tree decomposition} }

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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 148, 14th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2019)

The graph parameters highway dimension and skeleton dimension were introduced to capture the properties of transportation networks. As many important optimization problems like Travelling Salesperson, Steiner Tree or k-Center arise in such networks, it is worthwhile to study them on graphs of bounded highway or skeleton dimension.
We investigate the relationships between mentioned parameters and how they are related to other important graph parameters that have been applied successfully to various optimization problems. We show that the skeleton dimension is incomparable to any of the parameters distance to linear forest, bandwidth, treewidth and highway dimension and hence, it is worthwhile to study mentioned problems also on graphs of bounded skeleton dimension. Moreover, we prove that the skeleton dimension is upper bounded by the max leaf number and that for any graph on at least three vertices there are edge weights such that both parameters are equal.
Then we show that computing the highway dimension according to most recent definition is NP-hard, which answers an open question stated by Feldmann et al. [Andreas Emil Feldmann et al., 2015]. Finally we prove that on graphs G=(V,E) of skeleton dimension O(log^2 |V|) it is NP-hard to approximate the k-Center problem within a factor less than 2.

Johannes Blum. Hierarchy of Transportation Network Parameters and Hardness Results. In 14th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 148, pp. 4:1-4:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)

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@InProceedings{blum:LIPIcs.IPEC.2019.4, author = {Blum, Johannes}, title = {{Hierarchy of Transportation Network Parameters and Hardness Results}}, booktitle = {14th International Symposium on Parameterized and Exact Computation (IPEC 2019)}, pages = {4:1--4:15}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-129-0}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2019}, volume = {148}, editor = {Jansen, Bart M. P. and Telle, Jan Arne}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.IPEC.2019.4}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-114656}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.IPEC.2019.4}, annote = {Keywords: Graph Parameters, Skeleton Dimension, Highway Dimension, k-Center} }

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