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  6. The problem of sparsifying a graph or a hypergraph while approximately preserving its cut structure has been extensively studied and has many applications. In a seminal work, Benczúr and Karger (1996) showed that given any n-vertex undirected weighted graph G and a parameter ε ∈ (0,1), there is a near-linear time algorithm that outputs a weighted subgraph G' of G of size Õ(n/ε²) such that the weight of every cut in G is preserved to within a (1 ± ε)-factor in G'. The graph G' is referred to as a (1 ± ε)-approximate cut sparsifier of G. Subsequent recent work has obtained a similar result for the more general problem of hypergraph cut sparsifiers. However, all known sparsification algorithms require Ω(n + m) time where n denotes the number of vertices and m denotes the number of hyperedges in the hypergraph. Since m can be exponentially large in n, a natural question is if it is possible to create a hypergraph cut sparsifier in time polynomial in n, independent of the number of edges. We resolve this question in the affirmative, giving the first sublinear time algorithm for this problem, given appropriate query access to the hypergraph. Specifically, we designmore »an algorithm that constructs a (1 ± ε)-approximate cut sparsifier of a hypergraph H(V,E) in polynomial time in n, independent of the number of hyperedges, when given access to the hypergraph using the following two queries: 1) given any cut (S, ̄S), return the size |δ_E(S)| (cut value queries); and 2) given any cut (S, ̄S), return a uniformly at random edge crossing the cut (cut edge sample queries). Our algorithm outputs a sparsifier with Õ(n/ε²) edges, which is essentially optimal. We then extend our results to show that cut value and cut edge sample queries can also be used to construct hypergraph spectral sparsifiers in poly(n) time, independent of the number of hyperedges. We complement the algorithmic results above by showing that any algorithm that has access to only one of the above two types of queries can not give a hypergraph cut sparsifier in time that is polynomial in n. Finally, we show that our algorithmic results also hold if we replace the cut edge sample queries with a pair neighbor sample query that for any pair of vertices, returns a random edge incident on them. In contrast, we show that having access only to cut value queries and queries that return a random edge incident on a given single vertex, is not sufficient.« less
  7. 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 mainmore »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.« less