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Min-Max Theorems for Packing and Covering Odd (u,v)-trails

by   Sharat Ibrahimpur, et al.
University of Waterloo

We investigate the problem of packing and covering odd (u,v)-trails in a graph. A (u,v)-trail is a (u,v)-walk that is allowed to have repeated vertices but no repeated edges. We call a trail odd if the number of edges in the trail is odd. Let ν(u,v) denote the maximum number of edge-disjoint odd (u,v)-trails, and τ(u,v) denote the minimum size of an edge-set that intersects every odd (u,v)-trail. We prove that τ(u,v)≤ 2ν(u,v)+1. Our result is tight---there are examples showing that τ(u,v)=2ν(u,v)+1---and substantially improves upon the bound of 8 obtained in [Churchley et al 2016] for τ(u,v)/ν(u,v). Our proof also yields a polynomial-time algorithm for finding a cover and a collection of trails satisfying the above bounds. Our proof is simple and has two main ingredients. We show that (loosely speaking) the problem can be reduced to the problem of packing and covering odd (uv,uv)-trails losing a factor of 2 (either in the number of trails found, or the size of the cover). Complementing this, we show that the odd-(uv,uv)-trail packing and covering problems can be tackled by exploiting a powerful min-max result of [Chudnovsky et al 2006] for packing vertex-disjoint nonzero A-paths in group-labeled graphs.


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