# Approximating Node Connectivity Problems via Set Covers

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## Abstract

Given a graph (directed or undirected) with costs on the edges, and an integer $k$, we consider the problem of finding a $k$-node connected spanning subgraph of minimum cost. For the general instance of the problem (directed or undirected), there is a simple $2k$-approximation algorithm. Better algorithms are known for various ranges of $n,k$. For undirected graphs with metric costs Khuller and Raghavachari gave a $( 2+{2(k-1)}/{n})$-approximation algorithm. We obtain the following results: (i) For arbitrary costs, a $k$-approximation algorithm for undirected graphs and a $(k+1)$-approximation algorithm for directed graphs. (ii) For metric costs, a $(2+({k-1})/{n})$-approximation algorithm for undirected graphs and a $(2+{k}/{n})$-approximation algorithm for directed graphs. For undirected graphs and $k=6,7$, we further improve the approximation ratio from $k$ to $\lceil (k+1)/2 \rceil=4$; previously, $\lceil (k+1)/2 \rceil$-approximation algorithms were known only for $k \leq 5$. We also give a fast $3$-approximation algorithm for $k=4$. The multiroot problem generalizes the min-cost $k$-connected subgraph problem. In the multiroot problem, requirements $k_u$ for every node $u$ are given, and the aim is to find a minimum-cost subgraph that contains $\max\{k_u,k_v\}$ internally disjoint paths between every pair of nodes $u,v$. For the general instance of the problem, the best known algorithm has approximation ratio $2k$, where $k=\max k_u$. For metric costs there is a 3-approximation algorithm. We consider the case of metric costs, and, using our techniques, improve for $k \leq 7$ the approximation guarantee from $3$ to $2+{\lfloor (k-1)/2 \rfloor}/{k} < 2.5$.

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