Megow, Nicole
; Smith, Adam
(Ed.)

In this paper, we study the weighted k-server problem on the uniform metric in both the offline and online settings. We start with the offline setting. In contrast to the (unweighted) k-server problem which has a polynomial-time solution using min-cost flows, there are strong computational lower bounds for the weighted k-server problem, even on the uniform metric. Specifically, we show that assuming the unique games conjecture, there are no polynomial-time algorithms with a sub-polynomial approximation factor, even if we use c-resource augmentation for c < 2. Furthermore, if we consider the natural LP relaxation of the problem, then obtaining a bounded integrality gap requires us to use at least 𝓁 resource augmentation, where 𝓁 is the number of distinct server weights. We complement these results by obtaining a constant-approximation algorithm via LP rounding, with a resource augmentation of (2+ε)𝓁 for any constant ε > 0.
In the online setting, an exp(k) lower bound is known for the competitive ratio of any randomized algorithm for the weighted k-server problem on the uniform metric. In contrast, we show that 2𝓁-resource augmentation can bring the competitive ratio down by an exponential factor to only O(𝓁² log 𝓁). Our online algorithm uses the two-stage approach of first obtaining a fractional solution using the online primal-dual framework, and then rounding it online.

more »
« less