New Hardness Results for Planar Graph Problems in P and an Algorithm for Sparsest Cut [article]

Amir Abboud and Vincent Cohen-Addad and Philip N. Klein
2020 arXiv   pre-print
The Sparsest Cut is a fundamental optimization problem that has 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 a constant factor approximation 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
more » ... eights, under the (min,+)-Convolution conjecture, showing that approximations are inevitable in the near-linear time regime. To complement the lower bound, we provide a constant factor approximation in near-linear time, improving upon the 25-year old result of Rao in both time and accuracy. Our lower bound accomplishes a repeatedly raised challenge by being the first fine-grained lower bound for a natural planar graph problem in P. Moreover, we prove near-quadratic lower bounds under SETH for variants of the closest pair problem in planar graphs, and use them to show that the popular Average-Linkage procedure for Hierarchical Clustering cannot be simulated in truly subquadratic time. We prove an Ω(n/logn) lower bound on the number of communication rounds required to compute the weighted diameter of a network in the CONGEST 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) + ω(D) lower bound in the planar-distributed setting, and it complements the recent poly(D, logn) upper bounds of Li and Parter [STOC 2019] for (exact) unweighted diameter and for (1+ϵ) approximate weighted diameter.
arXiv:2007.02377v1 fatcat:6l6bbpsfxzcb3eacdxdz2xbqwu