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Understanding the structure of minor-free metrics, namely shortest path metrics obtained over a weighted graph excluding a fixed minor, has been an important research direction since the fundamental work of Robertson and Seymour. A fundamental idea that helps both to understand the structural properties of these metrics and lead to strong algorithmic results is to construct a “small-complexity” graph that approximately preserves distances between pairs of points of the metric. We show the two following structural results for minor-free metrics: 1) Construction of a light subset spanner. Given a subset of vertices called terminals, and ϵ, in polynomial time we construct a sub graph that preserves all pairwise distances between terminals up to a multiplicative 1+ϵ factor, of total weight at most Oϵ(1) times the weight of the minimal Steiner tree spanning the terminals. 2) Construction of a stochastic metric embedding into low treewidth graphs with expected additive distortion ϵD. Namely, given a minor-free graph G=(V,E,w) of diameter D, and parameter ϵ, we construct a distribution D over dominating metric embeddings into treewidth-Oϵ(log n) graphs such that ∀u,v∈V, Ef∼D[dH(f(u),f(v))]≤dG(u,v)+ϵD. Our results have the following algorithmic consequences: (1) the first efficient approximation scheme for subset TSP in minor-free metrics; (2) the first approximation scheme for bounded-capacity vehicle routing in minor-free metrics; (3) the first efficient approximation scheme for bounded-capacity vehicle routing on bounded genus metrics. En route to the latter result, we design the first FPT approximation scheme for bounded-capacity vehicle routing on bounded-treewidth graphs (parameterized by the treewidth).

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