Improved Methods for Approximating Node Weighted Steiner Trees and Connected Dominating Sets

TitleImproved Methods for Approximating Node Weighted Steiner Trees and Connected Dominating Sets
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsGuha S, Khuller S
JournalInformation and Computation
Pagination57 - 74
Date Published1999/04/10/
ISBN Number0890-5401

In this paper we study the Steiner tree problem in graphs for the case when vertices as well as edges have weights associated with them. A greedy approximation algorithm based on “spider decompositions” was developed by Klein and Ravi for this problem. This algorithm provides a worst case approximation ratio of 2 ln k, wherekis the number of terminals. However, the best known lower bound on the approximation ratio is (1−o(1)) ln k, assuming thatNP⊈DTIME[nO(log log n)], by a reduction from set cover. We show that for the unweighted case we can obtain an approximation factor of ln k. For the weighted case we develop a new decomposition theorem and generalize the notion of “spiders” to “branch-spiders” that are used to design a new algorithm with a worst case approximation factor of 1.5 ln k. We then generalize the method to yield an approximation factor of (1.35+ε) ln k, for any constantε>0. These algorithms, although polynomial, are not very practical due to their high running time, since we need to repeatedly find many minimum weight matchings in each iteration. We also develop a simple greedy algorithm that is practical and has a worst case approximation factor of 1.6103 ln k. The techniques developed for this algorithm imply a method of approximating node weighted network design problems defined by 0–1 proper functions as well. These new ideas also lead to improved approximation guarantees for the problem of finding a minimum node weighted connected dominating set. The previous best approximation guarantee for this problem was 3 ln nby Guha and Khuller. By a direct application of the methods developed in this paper we are able to develop an algorithm with an approximation factor of (1.35+ε) ln nfor any fixedε>0.