## 1 Introduction

We study the problem of maximizing the number of spanning trees in a weighted connected graph by adding at most edges from a given candidate edge set. By Kirchhoff’s matrix-tree theorem [Kir47], the number of spanning trees in is equivalent to the determinant of a minor of the graph Laplacian . Thus, an equivalent problem is to maximize the determinant of a minor of , or, more generally, to maximize the determinant of an SDDM matrix. The problem of maximizing the number of spanning trees, and the related problem of maximizing the determinant of an SDDM matrix, have applications in a wide variety of problem domains. We briefly review some of these applications below.

In robotics, the problem of maximizing the number of spanning trees has been applied in graph-based Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). In graph-based SLAM [TM06]

, each vertex corresponds to a robot’s pose or position, and edges correspond to relative measurements between poses. The graph is used to estimate the most likely pose configurations. Since measurements can be noisy, a larger number of measurements results in a more accurate estimate. The problem of selecting which

measurements to add to a SLAM pose graph to most improve the estimate has been recast as a problem of selecting the edges to add to the graph that maximize the number of spanning trees [KHD15, KHD16, KSHD16a, KSHD16b]. We note that the complexity of the estimation problem increases with the number of measurements, and so sparse, well-connected pose graphs are desirable [DK06]. Thus, one expects to be moderately sized with respect to the number of vertices.In network science, the number of spanning trees has been studied as a measure of reliability in communication networks, where reliability is defined as the probability that every pair of vertices can communicate

[Myr96]. Thus, network reliability can be improved by adding edges that most increase the number of spanning trees [FL01]. The number of spanning trees has also been used as a predictor of the spread of information in social networks [BAE11], with a larger number of spanning trees corresponding to better information propagation.In the field of cooperative control, the log-number of spanning trees has been shown to capture the robustness of linear consensus algorithms. Specifically, the log-number of spanning trees quantifies the network entropy, a measure of how well the agents in the network maintain agreement when subject to external stochastic disturbances [SM14, dBCM15, ZEP11]. Thus, the problem of selecting which edges to add to the network graph to optimize robustness is equivalent to the log-number of spanning trees maximization problem [SM18, ZSA13]. Finally, the log-determinant of an SDDM matrix has also been used directly as a measure of controllability in more general linear dynamical systems [SCL16]. In this paper, we provide an approximation algorithm to maximize the log-number of spanning trees of a connected graph by adding edges.

### 1.1 Our Results

Let denote an undirected graph with vertices and edges, and let denote the edge weight function. For another graph with edges supported on a subset of , we write “ plus ” or to denote the graph obtained by adding all edges in to .

Let denote the Laplacian matrix of a graph . The effective resistance between two vertices and is given by

where denotes the

standard basis vector and

denotes the Moore-Penrose inverse of .The weight of a spanning tree in is defined as

and the weighted number of spanning trees in is defined as the sum of the weights of all spanning trees, denoted by . By Kirchhoff’s matrix-tree theorem [Kir47], the weighted number of spanning trees equals the determinant of a minor of the graph Laplacian:

In this paper, we study the problem of maximizing the weighted number of spanning trees in a connected graph by adding at most edges from a given candidate edge set. We give a formal description of this problem below.

###### Problem 1 (Number of Spanning Trees Maximization (NSTM)).

Given a connected undirected graph , an edge set of edges, an edge weight function , and an integer , add at most edges from to so that the weighted number of spanning trees in is maximized. Namely, the goal is to find a set of at most edges such that

#### Algorithmic Results.

Our main algorithmic result is solving Problem 1 with an approximation factor of in the exponent of in nearly-linear time, which can be described by the following theorem:

###### Theorem 1.1.

There is an algorithm , which takes a connected graph with vertices and edges, an edge set of edges, an edge weight function , a real number , and an integer , and returns an edge set of at most edges in time . With high probability, the following statement holds:

where denotes an optimum solution.

The running time of NSTMaximize is independent of the number of edges to add to , and it is optimal with respect to the input size up to logarithmic factors. This running time substantially improves upon the previous greedy algorithm’s running time [KSHD16b], or the running time of its direct acceleration via fast effective resistance approximation [SS11, DKP17] , where the latter becomes quadratic when is . Moreover, the independence of our running time of is novel, comparing to conventional top- selections on graphs that usually run in time, such as the ones in [BBCL14, Yos14, MTU16, LPS18]. We briefly introduce these top- selections in Section 1.3.

A key ingredient of the algorithm NSTMaximize is a routine AddAbove that, given a sequence of edges and a threshold, sequentially adds to the graph any edge whose effective resistance (up to a error) is above the threshold at the time the edge is processed. The routine AddAbove runs in nearly-linear time in the total number of edges in the graph and the edge sequence. The performance of AddAbove is characterized in the following lemma:

###### Lemma 1.2.

There is a routine , which takes a connected graph with vertices and edges, an edge sequence , an edge weight function , real numbers and , and an integer , and performs a sequential edges additions to and returns the set of edges that have been added with . The routine AddAbove runs in time . With high probability, there exist such that AddAbove has the same return value as the following procedure, in which

holds for all :
for * to * do

*and*then

#### Hardness Results.

To further show that the approximation ratio of the algorithm NSTMaximize is also nearly optimal, we prove the following theorem, which indicates that Problem 1 is exponentially inapproximable:###### Theorem 1.3.

There is a constant such that given an instance of Problem 1, it is -hard to find an edge set with satisfying###### Theorem 1.4.

There is a constant such that given an instance of Problem 1, it is -hard to find an edge set with satisfying###### Lemma 1.5.

Let be an unweighted graph equal to a star plus ’s subgraph supported on ’s leaves. For any constant , there exists an absolute constant such that, if does not have any path cover with , then### 1.2 Ideas and Techniques

#### Algorithms.

By the matrix determinant lemma [Har97], the weighted number of spanning trees multiplies by#### Hardness.

A key step in our reduction is to show the connection between the minimum path cover and Problem 1. To this end, we consider an instance of Problem 1 in which is a star graph with leaves, the candidate edge set forms an underlying graph supported on ’s leaves, and the number of edges to add equals . We show that for two instances whose underlying graphs have respective path cover number and , their optimum numbers of spanning trees differ exponentially. Consider any set that consists of edges from , and any path cover of the underlying graph using only edges in . Clearly is greater than or equal to the minimum path cover number of the underlying graph. If forms a Hamiltonian path in the underlying graph, can be explicitly calculated [MEM14] and equals### 1.3 Related Work

#### Maximizing the Number of Spanning Trees.

There has been limited previous algorithmic study of the problem of maximizing the number of spanning trees in a graph. Problem 1 was also studied in [KSHD16b]. This work proposed a greedy algorithm which, by computing effective resistances exactly, achieves an approximation factor of in the exponent of the number of spanning trees in time. As far as we are aware, the hardness of Problem 1 has not been studied in any previous work. A related problem of, given and , identifying graphs with vertices and edges that have the maximum number of spanning trees has been studied. However, most solutions found to this problem are for either sparse graphs with edges [BLS91, Wan94], or dense graphs with edges [Shi74, Kel96, GM97, PBS98, PR02]. Of particular note, a regular complete multipartite graph has been shown to have the maximum number of spanning trees from among all simple graphs with the same number of vertices and edges [Che81].#### Maximizing Determinants.

Maximizing the determinant of a positive semidefinite matrix (PSD) is a problem that has been extensively studied in the theory of computation. For selecting a principle minor of a PSD with the maximum determinant under certain constraints,

[Kha95, ÇM09, SEFM15, NS16, ESV17] gave algorithms for approximating the optimum solution. [SEFM15, Nik15] also studied another related problem of finding a -dimensional simplex of maximum volume inside a given convex hull, which can be reduced to the former problem under cardinality constraint. For finding the principal submatrix of a positive semidefinite matrix with the largest determinant, [Nik15] gave an algorithm that obtains an approximation of . On the hardness side, all these problems have been showed to be exponentially inapproximable [Kou06, ÇM13, SEFM15]. The problem studied in [Nik15] can also be stated as the following: Given vectors and an integer , find a subset of cardinality so that the product of the largest eigenvalues of the matrix is maximized where . [Nik15] gave a polynomial-time algorithm that obtains an -approximation when . When , Problem is equivalent to maximizing the determinant of by selecting vectors. [SX18] showed that one can obtain an -approximation for . Moreover, they showed that given , one can obtain a -approximation. Using the algorithms in [Nik15, SX18], we can obtain an -approximation to a problem of independent interest but different from Problem 1: Select at most edges from a candidate edge set to add to an empty graph so that the number of spanning trees is maximized. In contrast, in Problem 1, we are seeking to add edges to a graph that is already connected. Thus, their algorithms cannot directly apply to Problem 1. In [ALSW17a, ALSW17b], the authors also studied Problem . They gave an algorithm that, when , gives a -approximation. Their algorithm first computes a fractional solution using convex optimization and then rounds the fractional solution to integers using spectral sparsification. Since spectral approximation is preserved under edge additions, their algorithm can apply to Problem 1 obtaining a -approximation. However, their algorithm needs to be , given that the candidate edge set is supported on vertices (which is natural in real-world datasets [KGS11, KHD16]). In contrast, could be arbitrarily smaller than in our setting. We remark that both our setting of adding edges to a connected graph and the scenario that could be arbitrarily smaller than have been used in previous works solving graph optimization problems such as maximizing the algebraic connectivity of a graph [KMST10, NXC10, GB06]. We also remark that the algorithms in [Nik15, SX18, ALSW17a, ALSW17b] all need to solve a convex optimization for their continuous relaxation, which runs in polynomial time in contrast to our nearly-linear running time, while the efficiency is crucial in applications [KHD16, KSHD16a, SCL16, SM18]. We also note that [DPPR17] gave an algorithm that computes the determinant of an SDDM matrix to a -error in time. In our algorithm, we are able to maximize the determinant in nearly-linear time without computing it.#### Fast Computation of Effective Resistances.

Fast computation of effective resistances has various applications in sparsification [SS11, ADK16, LS17], sampling random spanning trees [DKP17, DPPR17, Sch18], and solving linear systems [KLP16]. [SS11, KLP16] gave approximation routines that, using Fast Laplacian Solvers [ST14, CKM14], compute effective resistances for all edges to -errors in time. [CGP18] presents an algorithm that computes the effective resistances of all edges to -errors in time. For computing effective resistances for a given set of vertex pairs, [DKP17] gave a routine that, using divide-and-conquer based on Schur complements approximation [KS16], computes the effective resistances between pairs of vertices to -errors in time. [DKP17] also used a divide-and-conquer to sample random spanning trees in dense graphs faster. For maintaining -approximations to all-pair effective resistances of a fully-dynamic graph, [DGGP18] gave a data-structure with expected amortized update and query time. In [DPPR17], the authors combined the divide-and-conquer idea and their determinant-preserving sparsification to further accelerate random spanning tree sampling in dense graphs. A subset of the authors of this paper (Li and Zhang) recently [LZ18] used a divide-and-conquer approach to compute, for every edge , the sum of effective resistances between all vertex pairs in the graph in which is deleted. Our routine for performing fast sequential updates in Section 3.1 is motivated by these divide-and-conquer methods and is able to cope with an online-offline hybrid setting.#### Top- Selections on Graphs.

Conventional top- selections on graphs that rely on submodularity usually run in time, where is the number of edges. Here, we give a few examples of them. In [BBCL14], the authors studied the problem of maximizing the spread of influence through a social network. Specifically, they studied the problem of finding a set of initial seed vertices in a network so that, under the independent cascade model [KKT03] of network diffusion, the expected number of vertices reachable from the seeds is maximized. Using hypergraph sampling, the authors gave a greedy algorithm that achieves a -approximation in time. [Yos14, MTU16] studied the problem of finding a vertex set with maximum betweenness centrality subject to the constraint . Both algorithms in [Yos14, MTU16] are based on sampling shortest paths. To obtain a -approximation, their algorithms need at least running time according to Theorem 2 of [MTU16]. Given the assumption that the maximum betweenness centrality among all sets of vertices is , the algorithm in [MTU16] is able to obtain a solution with the same approximation ratio in time. A subset of the authors of this paper (Li, Yi, and Zhang) and Peng and Shan recently [LPS18] studied the problem of finding a set of vertices so that the quantity## Acknowledgements

We thank Richard Peng, He Sun, and Chandra Chekuri for very helpful discussions.## 2 Preliminaries

### 2.1 Graphs, Laplacians, and Effective Resistances

Let be a positively weighted undirected graph. and is respectively the vertex set and the edge set of the graph, and is the weight function. Let and . The Laplacian matrix of is given by###### Definition 2.1.

Given a connected graph with Laplacian matrix , the effective resistance any two vertices and is defined as### 2.2 Submodular Functions

We next give the definitions for monotone and submodular set functions. For conciseness we use to denote .###### Definition 2.2 (Monotonicity).

A set function is monotone if holds for all .###### Definition 2.3 (Submodularity).

A set function is submodular if holds for all and .### 2.3 Schur Complements

Let and be a partition of vertex set , which means . Then, we decompose the Laplacian into blocks using and as the block indices:###### Fact 2.4.

Let be a subset of vertices of a graph . Then for any vertices , we have:## 3 Nearly-Linear Time Approximation Algorithm

By the matrix determinant lemma [Har97], we have###### Lemma 3.1.

is a monotone submodular function.*do 2 forall*

*do 3 if*

*and*then 4 5 6 return

*P*The performance of algorithm GreedyTh is characterized in the following theorem.

###### Theorem 3.2.

The algorithm takes a connected graph with vertices and edges, an edge set of edges, an edge weight function , a real number , and an integer , and returns an edge set of at most edges. The algorithm computes effective resistances for pairs of vertices, and uses arithmetic operations. The returned satisfies the following statement:###### Lemma 3.3.

For any non-negative scalars and such that###### Proof.

Since and , we only need to prove the -approximation between and . Let be the positive root of the equation### 3.1 Routine for Faster Sequential Edge Additions

We now use the idea we stated in Section 1.2 to perform the sequential updates at Lines 1-1 of Algorithm 1 in nearly-linear time. We use a routine from [DKP17] to compute the approximate Schur complement:###### Lemma 3.4.

There is a routine that takes a Laplacian corresponding to graph with vertices and edges, a vertex set , and real numbers and , and returns a graph Laplacian with nonzero entries supported on . With probability at least , satisfies*then 2 Compute by inverting in time. if*

*and*then 3 return 4 else 5 return 6 7else 8 Divide into two intervals

*The performance of AddAbove is characterized in Lemma 1.2.*

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