Approximation Algorithms for the Firefighter Problem: Cuts over Time and Submodularity

  • Elliot Anshelevich
  • Deeparnab Chakrabarty
  • Ameya Hate
  • Chaitanya Swamy
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5878)


We provide approximation algorithms for several variants of the Firefighter problem on general graphs. The Firefighter problem models the case where an infection or another diffusive process (such as an idea, a computer virus, or a fire) is spreading through a network, and our goal is to stop this infection by using targeted vaccinations. Specifically, we are allowed to vaccinate at most B nodes per time-step (for some budget B), with the goal of minimizing the effect of the infection. The difficulty of this problem comes from its temporal component, since we must choose nodes to vaccinate at every time-step while the infection is spreading through the network, leading to notions of “cuts over time”.

We consider two versions of the Firefighter problem: a “non-spreading” model, where vaccinating a node means only that this node cannot be infected; and a “spreading” model where the vaccination itself is an infectious process, such as in the case where the infection is a harmful idea, and the vaccine to it is another infectious idea. We give complexity and approximation results for problems on both models.


Approximation Algorithm Greedy Algorithm Layered Graph Full Version Spreading Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot Anshelevich
    • 1
  • Deeparnab Chakrabarty
    • 2
  • Ameya Hate
    • 1
  • Chaitanya Swamy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceRensselaer Polytechnic Institute 
  2. 2.Dept. of Combinatorics & OptimizationUniversity of Waterloo 

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