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null (Ed.)It is commonly believed that, in congressional and state legislature elections in the United States, rural voters have an inherent political advantage over urban voters. We study this hypothesis using an idealized redistricting method, balanced centroidal power diagrams, that achieves essentially perfect population balance while optimizing a principled measure of compactness. We find that, using this method, the degree to which rural or urban voters have a political advantage depends on the number of districts and the population density of urban areas. Moreover, we find that the political advantage in any case tends to be dramatically less than that afforded by district plans used in the real world, including district plans drawn by presumably neutral parties such as the courts. One possible explanation is suggested by the following discovery: modifying centroidal power diagrams to prefer placing boundaries along city boundaries significantly increases the advantage rural voters have over urban voters.more » « less

null (Ed.)Understanding the structure of minorfree metrics, namely shortest path metrics obtained over a weighted graph excluding a fixed minor, has been an important research direction since the fundamental work of Robertson and Seymour. A fundamental idea that helps both to understand the structural properties of these metrics and lead to strong algorithmic results is to construct a “smallcomplexity” graph that approximately preserves distances between pairs of points of the metric. We show the two following structural results for minorfree metrics: 1) Construction of a light subset spanner. Given a subset of vertices called terminals, and ϵ, in polynomial time we construct a sub graph that preserves all pairwise distances between terminals up to a multiplicative 1+ϵ factor, of total weight at most Oϵ(1) times the weight of the minimal Steiner tree spanning the terminals. 2) Construction of a stochastic metric embedding into low treewidth graphs with expected additive distortion ϵD. Namely, given a minorfree graph G=(V,E,w) of diameter D, and parameter ϵ, we construct a distribution D over dominating metric embeddings into treewidthOϵ(log n) graphs such that ∀u,v∈V, Ef∼D[dH(f(u),f(v))]≤dG(u,v)+ϵD. Our results have the following algorithmic consequences: (1) the first efficient approximation scheme for subset TSP in minorfree metrics; (2) the first approximation scheme for boundedcapacity vehicle routing in minorfree metrics; (3) the first efficient approximation scheme for boundedcapacity vehicle routing on bounded genus metrics. En route to the latter result, we design the first FPT approximation scheme for boundedcapacity vehicle routing on boundedtreewidth graphs (parameterized by the treewidth).more » « less

null (Ed.)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 SETH for variants of the closest pair problem in planar graphs, and use them to show that the popular AverageLinkage procedure for Hierarchical Clustering cannot be simulated in truly subquadratic time. At the core of our constructions is a diamondlike 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 planardistributed 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.more » « less

null (Ed.)The Capacitated Vehicle Routing problem is to find a minimumcost set of tours that collectively cover clients in a graph, such that each tour starts and ends at a specified depot and is subject to a capacity bound on the number of clients it can serve. In this paper, we present a polynomialtime approximation scheme (PTAS) for instances in which the input graph is planar and the capacity is bounded. Previously, only a quasipolynomialtime approximation scheme was known for these instances. To obtain this result, we show how to embed planar graphs into boundedtreewidth graphs while preserving, in expectation, the clienttoclient distances up to a small additive error proportional to client distances to the depot.more » « less

We consider the problem of political redistricting: given the locations of people in a geographical area (e.g. a US state), the goal is to decompose the area into subareas, called districts, so that the populations of the districts are as close as possible and the districts are ``compact'' and ``contiguous,'' to use the terms referred to in most US state constitutions and/or US Supreme Court rulings. We study a method that outputs a solution in which each district is the intersection of a convex polygon with the geographical area. The average number of sides per polygon is less than six. The polygons tend to be quite compact. Every two districts differ in population by at most one (so we call the solution balanced). In fact, the solution is a centroidal power diagram: each polygon has an associated center in ℝ³ such that * the projection of the center onto the plane z = 0 is the centroid of the locations of people assigned to the polygon, and * for each person assigned to that polygon, the polygon's center is closest among all centers. The polygons are convex because they are the intersections of 3D Voronoi cells with the plane. The solution is, in a welldefined sense, a locally optimal solution to the problem of choosing centers in the plane and choosing an assignment of people to those 2d centers so as to minimize the sum of squared distances subject to the assignment being balanced. * A practical problem with this approach is that, in realworld redistricting, exact locations of people are unknown. Instead, the input consists of polygons (census blocks) and associated populations. A real redistricting must not split census blocks. We therefore propose a second phase that perturbs the solution slightly so it does not split census blocks. In our experiments, the second phase achieves this while preserving perfect population balance. The district polygons are no longer convex at the fine scale because their boundaries must follow the boundaries of census blocks, but at a coarse scale they preserve the shape of the original polygons.more » « less