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  1. We present a new technique for efficiently removing almost all short cycles in a graph without unintentionally removing its triangles. Consequently, triangle finding problems do not become easy even in almost k-cycle free graphs, for any constant k≥ 4. Triangle finding is at the base of many conditional lower bounds in P, mainly for distance computation problems, and the existence of many 4- or 5-cycles in a worst-case instance had been the obstacle towards resolving major open questions. Hardness of approximation: Are there distance oracles with m1+o(1) preprocessing time and mo(1) query time that achieve a constant approximation? Existing algorithms with such desirable time bounds only achieve super-constant approximation factors, while only 3− factors were conditionally ruled out (Pătraşcu, Roditty, and Thorup; FOCS 2012). We prove that no O(1) approximations are possible, assuming the 3-SUM or APSP conjectures. In particular, we prove that k-approximations require Ω(m1+1/ck) time, which is tight up to the constant c. The lower bound holds even for the offline version where we are given the queries in advance, and extends to other problems such as dynamic shortest paths. The 4-Cycle problem: An infamous open question in fine-grained complexity is to establish any surprising consequences from amore »subquadratic or even linear-time algorithm for detecting a 4-cycle in a graph. This is arguably one of the simplest problems without a near-linear time algorithm nor a conditional lower bound. We prove that Ω(m1.1194) time is needed for k-cycle detection for all k≥ 4, unless we can detect a triangle in √n-degree graphs in O(n2−δ) time; a breakthrough that is not known to follow even from optimal matrix multiplication algorithms.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2023
  2. The Sparsest Cut is a fundamental optimization problem that have been extensively studied. For planar inputs the problem is in P and can be solved in Õ(n 3 ) time if all vertex weights are 1. Despite a significant amount of effort, the best algorithms date back to the early 90’s and can only achieve O(log n)-approximation in Õ(n) time or 3.5-approximation in Õ(n 2 ) time [Rao, STOC92]. Our main result is an Ω(n 2−ε ) lower bound for Sparsest Cut even in planar graphs with unit vertex weights, under the (min, +)-Convolution conjecture, showing that approxima- tions are inevitable in the near-linear time regime. To complement the lower bound, we provide a 3.3-approximation in near-linear time, improving upon the 25-year old result of Rao in both time and accuracy. We also show that our lower bound is not far from optimal by observing an exact algorithm with running time Õ(n 5/2 ) improving upon the Õ(n 3 ) algorithm of Park and Phillips [STOC93]. Our lower bound accomplishes a repeatedly raised challenge by being the first fine-grained lower bound for a natural planar graph problem in P. Building on our construction we prove near-quadratic lower bounds under SETHmore »for variants of the closest pair problem in planar graphs, and use them to show that the popular Average-Linkage procedure for Hierarchical Clustering cannot be simulated in truly subquadratic time. At the core of our constructions is a diamond-like gadget that also settles the complexity of Diameter in distributed planar networks. We prove an Ω(n/ log n) lower bound on the number of communication rounds required to compute the weighted diameter of a network in the CONGET model, even when the underlying graph is planar and all nodes are D = 4 hops away from each other. This is the first poly(n) lower bound in the planar-distributed setting, and it complements the recent poly(D, log n) upper bounds of Li and Parter [STOC 2019] for (exact) unweighted diameter and for (1 + ε) approximate weighted diameter.« less