Ahn, Hee-Kap
; Sadakane, Kunihiko
(Ed.)

In the standard planar k-center clustering problem, one is given a set P of n points in the plane, and the goal is to select k center points, so as to minimize the maximum distance over points in P to their nearest center. Here we initiate the systematic study of the clustering with neighborhoods problem, which generalizes the k-center problem to allow the covered objects to be a set of general disjoint convex objects C rather than just a point set P. For this problem we first show that there is a PTAS for approximating the number of centers. Specifically, if r_opt is the optimal radius for k centers, then in n^O(1/ε²) time we can produce a set of (1+ε)k centers with radius ≤ r_opt. If instead one considers the standard goal of approximating the optimal clustering radius, while keeping k as a hard constraint, we show that the radius cannot be approximated within any factor in polynomial time unless P = NP, even when C is a set of line segments. When C is a set of unit disks we show the problem is hard to approximate within a factor of (√{13}-√3)(2-√3) ≈ 6.99. This hardness result complements ourmore »