Meike Hatzel gave a talk on the parameterized complexity of finding a vertex cut of small size separating three pairs of terminals on a directed graph at the Discrete Math Seminar

On February 21, 2023, Meike Hatzel from the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo gave a talk at the Discrete Math Seminar on the parameterized complexity of the Directed Multicut problem with three pairs of terminals, which is to find a vertex cut of size at most k separating three pairs of terminals. The title of her talk was “Fixed-Parameter Tractability of Directed Multicut with Three Terminal Pairs Parametrised by the Size of the Cutset: Twin-Width Meets Flow-Augmentation“.

Meike Hatzel, Fixed-Parameter Tractability of Directed Multicut with Three Terminal Pairs Parametrised by the Size of the Cutset: Twin-Width Meets Flow-Augmentation

We show fixed-parameter tractability of the Directed Multicut problem with three terminal pairs (with a randomized algorithm). This problem, given a directed graph $G$, pairs of vertices (called terminals) $(s_1,t_1)$, $(s_2,t_2)$, and $(s_3,t_3)$, and an integer $k$, asks to find a set of at most $k$ non-terminal vertices in $G$ that intersect all $s_1t_1$-paths, all $s_2t_2$-paths, and all $s_3t_3$-paths. The parameterized complexity of this case has been open since Chitnis, Cygan, Hajiaghayi, and Marx proved fixed-parameter tractability of the 2-terminal-pairs case at SODA 2012, and Pilipczuk and Wahlström proved the W[1]-hardness of the 4-terminal-pairs case at SODA 2016.

On the technical side, we use two recent developments in parameterized algorithms. Using the technique of directed flow-augmentation [Kim, Kratsch, Pilipczuk, Wahlström, STOC 2022] we cast the problem as a CSP problem with few variables and constraints over a large ordered domain. We observe that this problem can be in turn encoded as an FO model-checking task over a structure consisting of a few 0-1 matrices. We look at this problem through the lenses of twin-width, a recently introduced structural parameter [Bonnet, Kim, Thomassé, Watrigant, FOCS 2020]: By a recent characterization [Bonnet, Giocanti, Ossona de Mendez, Simon, Thomassé, Toruńczyk, STOC 2022] the said FO model-checking task can be done in FPT time if the said matrices have bounded grid rank. To complete the proof, we show an irrelevant vertex rule: If any of the matrices in the said encoding has a large grid minor, a vertex corresponding to the “middle” box in the grid minor can be proclaimed irrelevant — not contained in the sought solution — and thus reduced.

Meike Hatzel, Constant congestion bramble

In this talk I will present a small result we achieved during a workshop in February this year. My coauthors on this are Marcin Pilipczuk, Paweł Komosa and Manuel Sorge.

A bramble in an undirected graph $G$ is a family of connected subgraphs of $G$ such that for every two subgraphs $H_1$ and $H_2$ in the bramble either $V(H_1) \cap V(H_2) \neq \emptyset$ or there is an edge of $G$ with one endpoint in $V(H_1)$ and the second endpoint in $V(H_2)$. The order of the bramble is the minimum size of a vertex set that intersects all elements of a bramble.

Brambles are objects dual to treewidth: As shown by Seymour and Thomas, the maximum order of a bramble in an undirected graph $G$ equals one plus the treewidth of $G$. However, as shown by Grohe and Marx, brambles of high order may necessarily be of exponential size: In a constant-degree $n$-vertex expander a bramble of order $\Omega(n^{1/2+\delta})$ requires size exponential in $\Omega(n^{2\delta})$ for any fixed $\delta \in (0,\frac{1}{2}]$. On the other hand, the combination of results of Grohe and Marx, and Chekuri and Chuzhoy shows that a graph of treewidth $k$ admits a bramble of order $\widetilde{\Omega}(k^{1/2})$ and size $\widetilde{O}(k^{3/2})$. ($\widetilde{\Omega}$ and $\widetilde{O}$ hide polylogarithmic factors and divisors, respectively.)

We first sharpen the second bound by proving that every graph $G$ of treewidth at least $k$ contains a bramble of order $\widetilde{\Omega}(k^{1/2})$ and congestion $2$, i.e., every vertex of $G$ is contained in at most two elements of the bramble (thus the bramble is of size linear in its order). Second, we provide a tight upper bound for the lower bound of Grohe and Marx: For every $\delta \in (0,\frac{1}{2}]$, every graph $G$ of treewidth at least $k$ contains a bramble of order $\widetilde{\Omega}(k^{1/2+\delta})$ and size $2^{\widetilde{O}(k^{2\delta})}$.

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