, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 738-757
Date: 30 Jul 2010

Bounded Unpopularity Matchings

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We investigate the following problem: given a set of jobs and a set of people with preferences over the jobs, what is the optimal way of matching people to jobs? Here we consider the notion of popularity. A matching M is popular if there is no matching M′ such that more people prefer M′ to M than the other way around. Determining whether a given instance admits a popular matching and, if so, finding one, was studied by Abraham et al. (SIAM J. Comput. 37(4):1030–1045, 2007). If there is no popular matching, a reasonable substitute is a matching whose unpopularity is bounded. We consider two measures of unpopularity—unpopularity factor denoted by u(M) and unpopularity margin denoted by g(M). McCutchen recently showed that computing a matching M with the minimum value of u(M) or g(M) is NP-hard, and that if G does not admit a popular matching, then we have u(M)≥2 for all matchings M in G.

Here we show that a matching M that achieves u(M)=2 can be computed in \(O(m\sqrt{n})\) time (where m is the number of edges in G and n is the number of nodes) provided a certain graph H admits a matching that matches all people. We also describe a sequence of graphs: H=H 2,H 3,…,H k such that if H k admits a matching that matches all people, then we can compute in \(O(km\sqrt{n})\) time a matching M such that u(M)≤k−1 and \(g(M)\le n(1-\frac{2}{k})\) . Simulation results suggest that our algorithm finds a matching with low unpopularity in random instances.

A preliminary version of this work appeared in 11th Scandinavian Workshop on Algorithm Theory (SWAT 08).
Part of this work was done when C.-C. Huang was visiting Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik, Saarbrücken, Germany.
Work of T. Kavitha was done as part of the DST-MPG partner group “Efficient Graph Algorithms” at IISc Bangalore.
Part of this work by D. Michail was carried out during the tenure of an ERCIM “Alain Bensoussan” Fellowship Programme.