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Querying Probabilistic Neighborhoods in Spatial Data Sets Efficiently

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Combinatorial Algorithms (IWOCA 2016)

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The probability that two spatial objects establish some kind of mutual connection often depends on their proximity. To formalize this concept, we define the notion of a probabilistic neighborhood: Let P be a set of n points in \(\mathbb {R}^d\), \(q \in \mathbb {R}^d\) a query point, \({\text {dist}}\) a distance metric, and \(f : \mathbb {R}^+ \rightarrow [0,1]\) a monotonically decreasing function. Then, the probabilistic neighborhood N(qf) of q with respect to f is a random subset of P and each point \(p \in P\) belongs to N(qf) with probability \(f({\text {dist}}(p,q))\). Possible applications include query sampling and the simulation of probabilistic spreading phenomena, as well as other scenarios where the probability of a connection between two entities decreases with their distance. We present a fast, sublinear-time query algorithm to sample probabilistic neighborhoods from planar point sets. For certain distributions of planar P, we prove that our algorithm answers a query in \(O((|N(q,f)| + \sqrt{n})\log n)\) time with high probability. In experiments this yields a speedup over pairwise distance probing of at least one order of magnitude, even for rather small data sets with \(n=10^5\) and also for other point distributions not covered by the theoretical results.

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    We say “with high probability” (whp) when referring to a probability \(\ge 1- 1/n\) for sufficiently large n.

  2. 2.

    The probability density in the polar model depends only on radii r and R as well as a growth parameter \(\alpha \) and is given by \(g(r) := \alpha \frac{\sinh (\alpha r)}{\cosh (\alpha R)-1} \).


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This work is partially supported by German Research Foundation (DFG) grant ME 3619/3-1 within the Priority Programme 1736 Algorithms for Big Data. The authors thank Mark Ortmann for helpful discussions.

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Correspondence to Moritz von Looz .

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von Looz, M., Meyerhenke, H. (2016). Querying Probabilistic Neighborhoods in Spatial Data Sets Efficiently. In: Mäkinen, V., Puglisi, S., Salmela, L. (eds) Combinatorial Algorithms. IWOCA 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 9843. Springer, Cham.

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