# Maximizing the Number of Spanning Trees in a Connected Graph

We study the problem of maximizing the number of spanning trees in a connected graph by adding at most k edges from a given candidate edge set. We give both algorithmic and hardness results for this problem: - We give a greedy algorithm that, using submodularity, obtains an approximation ratio of (1 - 1/e - ϵ) in the exponent of the number of spanning trees for any ϵ > 0 in time Õ(m ϵ^-1 + (n + q) ϵ^-3), where m and q is the number of edges in the original graph and the candidate edge set, respectively. Our running time is optimal with respect to the input size up to logarithmic factors, and substantially improves upon the O(n^3) running time of the previous proposed greedy algorithm with approximation ratio (1 - 1/e) in the exponent. Notably, the independence of our running time of k is novel, comparing to conventional top-k selections on graphs that usually run in Ω(mk) time. A key ingredient of our greedy algorithm is a routine for maintaining effective resistances under edge additions in an online-offline hybrid setting. - We show the exponential inapproximability of this problem by proving that there exists a constant c > 0 such that it is NP-hard to approximate the optimum number of spanning trees in the exponent within (1 - c). This inapproximability result follows from a reduction from the minimum path cover in undirected graphs, whose hardness again follows from the constant inapproximability of the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) with distances 1 and 2. Thus, the approximation ratio of our algorithm is also optimal up to a constant factor in the exponent. To our knowledge, this is the first hardness of approximation result for maximizing the number of spanning trees in a graph, or equivalently, by Kirchhoff's matrix-tree theorem, maximizing the determinant of an SDDM matrix.

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