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Title: Hardness of Approximation for Orienteering with Multiple Time Windows
Vehicle routing problems are a broad class of combinatorial optimization problems that can be formulated as the problem of finding a tour in a weighted graph that optimizes some function of the visited vertices. For instance, a canonical and extensively studied vehicle routing problem is the orienteering problem where the goal is to find a tour that maximizes the number of vertices visited by a given deadline. In this paper, we consider the computational tractability of a well-known generalization of the orienteering problem called the Orient-MTW problem. The input to Orient-MTW consists of a weighted graph G(V, E) where for each vertex v ∊ V we are given a set of time instants Tv ⊆ [T], and a source vertex s. A tour starting at s is said to visit a vertex v if it transits through v at any time in the set Tv. The goal is to find a tour starting at the source vertex that maximizes the number of vertices visited. It is known that this problem admits a quasi-polynomial time O(log OPT)-approximation ratio where OPT is the optimal solution value but until now no hardness better than an APX-hardness was known for this problem. Our main result is an -hardness for this problem that holds even when the underlying graph G is an undirected tree. This is the first super-constant hardness result for the Orient-MTW problem. The starting point for our result is the hardness of the SetCover problem which is known to hold on instances with a special structure. We exploit this special structure of the hard SetCover instances to first obtain a new proof of the APX-hardness result for Orient-MTW that holds even on trees of depth 2. We then recursively amplify this constant factor hardness to an -hardness, while keeping the resulting topology to be a tree. Our amplified hardness proof crucially utilizes a delicate concavity property which shows that in our encoding of SetCover instances as instances of the Orient-MTW problem, whenever the optimal cost for SetCover instance is large, any tour, no matter how it allocates its time across different sub-trees, can not visit too many vertices overall. We believe that this reduction template may also prove useful in showing hardness of other vehicle routing problems.  more » « less
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Proceedings of the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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