Tight bounds for undirected graph exploration with pebbles and multiple agents

by   Yann Disser, et al.

We study the problem of deterministically exploring an undirected and initially unknown graph with n vertices either by a single agent equipped with a set of pebbles, or by a set of collaborating agents. The vertices of the graph are unlabeled and cannot be distinguished by the agents, but the edges incident to a vertex have locally distinct labels. The graph is explored when all vertices have been visited by at least one agent. In this setting, it is known that for a single agent without pebbles Θ( n) bits of memory are necessary and sufficient to explore any graph with at most n vertices. We are interested in how the memory requirement decreases as the agent may mark vertices by dropping and retrieving distinguishable pebbles, or when multiple agents jointly explore the graph. We give tight results for both questions showing that for a single agent with constant memory Θ( n) pebbles are necessary and sufficient for exploration. We further prove that the same bound holds for the number of collaborating agents needed for exploration. For the upper bound, we devise an algorithm for a single agent with constant memory that explores any n-vertex graph using O( n) pebbles, even when n is unknown. The algorithm terminates after polynomial time and returns to the starting vertex. Since an additional agent is at least as powerful as a pebble, this implies that O( n) agents with constant memory can explore any n-vertex graph. For the lower bound, we show that the number of agents needed for exploring any graph of size n is already Ω( n) when we allow each agent to have at most O( n ^1-ε) bits of memory for any ε>0. This also implies that a single agent with sublogarithmic memory needs Θ( n) pebbles to explore any n-vertex graph.


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