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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 kcycle 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 5cycles in a worstcase 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 superconstant 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 3SUM or APSP conjectures. In particular, we prove that kapproximations 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 4Cycle problem: An infamous open question in finegrained complexity is to establish any surprising consequences from amore »Free, publiclyaccessible full text available June 9, 2023

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 3.5approximation 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 nearlinear time regime. To complement the lower bound, we provide a 3.3approximation in nearlinear time, improving upon the 25year 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 finegrained lower bound for a natural planar graph problem in P. Building on our construction we prove nearquadratic lower bounds under SETHmore »