Multicommodity max-flow min-cut theorems and their use in designing approximation algorithms

Tom Leighton, Satish Rao
1999 Journal of the ACM  
In this paper, we establish max-flow min-cut theorems for several important classes of multicommodity flow problems. In particular, we show that for any n-node multicommodity flow problem with uniform demands, the max-flow for the problem is within an O(log n) factor of the upper bound implied by the min-cut. The result (which is existentially optimal) establishes an important analogue of the famous 1-commodity max-flow min-cut theorem for problems with multiple commodities. The result also has
more » ... substantial applications to the field of approximation algorithms. For example, we use the flow result to design the first polynomial-time (polylog n-times-optimal) approximation algorithms for well-known NP-hard optimization problems such as graph partitioning, min-cut linear arrangement, crossing number, VLSI layout, and minimum feedback arc set. Applications of the flow results to path routing problems, network reconfiguration, communication in distributed networks, scientific computing and rapidly mixing Markov chains are also described in the paper.
doi:10.1145/331524.331526 fatcat:ec6h6h56brgn3hdcln3kkzoshy