### An Exponential Time Parameterized Algorithm for Planar Disjoint Paths [article]

Daniel Lokshtanov, Pranabendu Misra, Michal Pilipczuk, Saket Saurabh, Meirav Zehavi
2021 arXiv   pre-print
In the Disjoint Paths problem, the input is an undirected graph G on n vertices and a set of k vertex pairs, {s_i,t_i}_i=1^k, and the task is to find k pairwise vertex-disjoint paths connecting s_i to t_i. The problem was shown to have an f(k)n^3 algorithm by Robertson and Seymour. In modern terminology, this means that Disjoint Paths is fixed parameter tractable (FPT), parameterized by the number of vertex pairs. This algorithm is the cornerstone of the entire graph minor theory, and a vital
more » ... gredient in the g(k)n^3 algorithm for Minor Testing (given two undirected graphs, G and H on n and k vertices, respectively, the objective is to check whether G contains H as a minor). All we know about f and g is that these are computable functions. Thus, a challenging open problem in graph algorithms is to devise an algorithm for Disjoint Paths where f is single exponential. That is, f is of the form 2^ poly(k). The algorithm of Robertson and Seymour relies on topology and essentially reduces the problem to surface-embedded graphs. Thus, the first major obstacle that has to be overcome in order to get an algorithm with a single exponential running time for Disjoint Paths and Minor Testing on general graphs is to solve Disjoint Paths in single exponential time on surface-embedded graphs and in particular on planar graphs. Even when the inputs to Disjoint Paths are restricted to planar graphs, a case called the Planar Disjoint Paths problem, the best known algorithm has running time 2^2^O(k)n^2. In this paper, we make the first step towards our quest for designing a single exponential time algorithm for Disjoint Paths by giving a 2^O(k^2)n^O(1)-time algorithm for Planar Disjoint Paths.