Lower Bounds on the Distortion of Embedding Finite Metric Spaces in Graphs
- Cite this article as:
- Rabinovich, Y. & Raz, R. Discrete Comput Geom (1998) 19: 79. doi:10.1007/PL00009336
The main question discussed in this paper is how well a finite metric space of size n can be embedded into a graph with certain topological restrictions.
The existing constructions of graph spanners imply that any n -point metric space can be represented by a (weighted) graph with n vertices and n1 +O(1/r) edges, with distances distorted by at most r . We show that this tradeoff between the number of edges and the distortion cannot be improved, and that it holds in a much more general setting. The main technical lemma claims that the metric space induced by an unweighted graph H of girth g cannot be embedded in a graph G (even if it is weighted) of smaller Euler characteristic, with distortion less than g/4 - 3/2 . In the special case when |V(G)| =|V(H)| and G has strictly less edges than H , an improved bound of g/3 - 1 is shown. In addition, we discuss the case χ(G) < χ(H) - 1 , as well as some interesting higher-dimensional analogues. The proofs employ basic techniques of algebraic topology.