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1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 2, 2024
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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 design 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.
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