Approximation Algorithms for Graph Burning

  • Anthony BonatoEmail author
  • Shahin Kamali
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11436)


Numerous approaches study the vulnerability of networks against social contagion. Graph burning studies how fast a contagion, modeled as a set of fires, spreads in a graph. The burning process takes place in synchronous, discrete rounds. In each round, a fire breaks out at a vertex, and the fire spreads to all vertices that are adjacent to a burning vertex. The selection of vertices where fires start defines a schedule that indicates the number of rounds required to burn all vertices. Given a graph, the objective of an algorithm is to find a schedule that minimizes the number of rounds to burn graph. Finding the optimal schedule is known to be NP-hard, and the problem remains NP-hard when the graph is a tree or a set of disjoint paths. The only known algorithm is an approximation algorithm for disjoint paths, which has an approximation ratio of 1.5.

We present approximation algorithms for graph burning. For general graphs, we introduce an algorithm with an approximation ratio of 3. When the graph is a tree, we present another algorithm with approximation ratio 2. Moreover, we consider a setting where the graph is a forest of disjoint paths. In this setting, when the number of paths is constant, we provide an optimal algorithm which runs in polynomial time. When the number of paths is more than a constant, we provide two approximation schemes: first, under a regularity condition where paths have asymptotically equal lengths, we show the problem admits an approximation scheme which is fully polynomial. Second, for a general setting where the regularity condition does not necessarily hold, we provide another approximation scheme which runs in time polynomial in the size of the graph.


Approximation algorithms Graph algorithms Graph burning problem Information dissemination Social contagion 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ryerson UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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