On the complexity of the disjoint paths problem


In this paper we consider the disjoint paths problem. Given a graphG and a subsetS of the edge-set ofG the problem is to decide whether there exists a family ℱ of disjoint circuits inG each containing exactly one edge ofS such that every edge inS belongs to a circuit inC. By a well-known theorem of P. Seymour the edge-disjoint paths problem is polynomially solvable for Eulerian planar graphsG. We show that (assumingPNP) one can drop neither planarity nor the Eulerian condition onG without losing polynomial time solvability. We prove theNP-completeness of the planar edge-disjoint paths problem by showing theNP-completeness of the vertex disjoint paths problem for planar graphs with maximum vertex-degree three. This disproves (assumingPNP) a conjecture of A. Schrijver concerning the existence of a polynomial time algorithm for the planar vertex-disjoint paths problem. Furthermore we present a counterexample to a conjecture of A. Frank. This conjecture would have implied a polynomial algorithm for the planar edge-disjoint paths problem. Moreover we derive a complete characterization of all minorclosed classes of graphs for which the disjoint paths problem is polynomially solvable. Finally we show theNP-completeness of the half-integral relaxation of the edge-disjoint paths problem. This implies an answer to the long-standing question whether the edge-disjoint paths problem is polynomially solvable for Eulerian graphs.

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Supported by Sonderforschungsbereich 303 (DFG)

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Middendorf, M., Pfeiffer, F. On the complexity of the disjoint paths problem. Combinatorica 13, 97–107 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01202792

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AMS subject classification code (1991)

  • 05 C 38
  • 68 R 10