Crossing Number for Graphs with Bounded Pathwidth

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The crossing number is the smallest number of pairwise edge crossings when drawing a graph into the plane. There are only very few graph classes for which the exact crossing number is known or for which there at least exist constant approximation ratios. Furthermore, up to now, general crossing number computations have never been successfully tackled using bounded width of graph decompositions, like treewidth or pathwidth. In this paper, we show that the crossing number is tractable (even in linear time) for maximal graphs of bounded pathwidth 3. The technique also shows that the crossing number and the rectilinear (a.k.a. straight-line) crossing number are identical for this graph class, and that we require only an \(O(n)\times O(n)\)-grid to achieve such a drawing. Our techniques can further be extended to devise a 2-approximation for general graphs with pathwidth 3. One crucial ingredient here is that the crossing number of a graph with a separation pair can be lower-bounded using the crossing numbers of its cut-components, a result that may be interesting in its own right. Finally, we give a \(4{\mathbf{w}}^3\)-approximation of the crossing number for maximal graphs of pathwidth \({\mathbf{w}}\). This is a constant approximation for bounded pathwidth. We complement this with an NP-hardness proof of the weighted crossing number already for pathwidth 3 graphs and bicliques \(K_{3,n}\).

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    The coordinates are chosen to be easy to define and analyze; the constant factor could likely be improved by making more careful choices.


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Correspondence to Markus Chimani.

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This work has been started at the Crossing Number Workshop 2016 in Strobl (Austria) and appeared in a preliminary version at ISAAC’17 [2]. Research of T.B. supported by NSERC. Research of M.D. supported by NSERC Vanier CSG. Research of M.C. partially supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG), project CH 897/2-1. Research of P.M. partially supported by the DFG within the SFB 876 (project A6).

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Biedl, T., Chimani, M., Derka, M. et al. Crossing Number for Graphs with Bounded Pathwidth. Algorithmica (2020).

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  • Crossing number
  • Pathwidth
  • Approximation
  • Graph algorithms
  • Complexity