Understanding Set Cover - Sub-exponential Time Approximations and Lift-and-Project Methods

Eden Chlamtác, Zac Friggstad, Konstantinos Georgiou

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Recently, Cygan, Kowalik, and Wykurz [IPL 2009] gave sub-exponential-time approximation algorithms for the Set Cover problem with approximation ratios better than ln n. In light of this result, it is natural to ask whether such improvements can be achieved using lift-andproject methods. We present a simpler combinatorial algorithm which has nearly the same time-approximation tradeoff as the algorithm of Cygan et al., and which lends itself naturally to a lift-and-project based approach.
At a high level, our approach is similar to the recent work of Karlin, Mathieu, and Nguyen [IPCO 2011], who examined a known PTAS for Knapsack (similar to our combinatorial Set Cover algorithm) and its connection to hierarchies of LP and SDP relaxations for Knapsack. For Set Cover, we show that, indeed, using the trick of “lifting the objective function”, we can match the performance of our combinatorial algorithm using the LP hierarchy of Lov´asz and Schrijver. We also show that this trick is essential: even in the stronger LP hierarchy of Sherali and Adams, the integrality gap remains at least (1 − ε) ln n at level Ω(n) (when the objective function is not lifted). As shown by Aleknovich, Arora, and Tourlakis [STOC 2005], Set Cover relaxations stemming from SDP hierarchies (specifically, LS+) have similarly large integrality gaps. This stands in contrast to Knapsack, where Karlin et al. showed that the (much stronger) Lasserre SDP hierarchy reduces the integrality gap to (1 + ε) at level O(1). For completeness, we show that LS+ also reduces the integrality gap for Knapsack to (1+ε). This result may be of independent interest, as our LS+-based rounding and analysis are rather different from those of Karlin et al., and to the best of our knowledge this is the first explicit demonstration of such a reduction in the integrality gap of LS+ relaxations after few rounds.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

Namearxiv Math. CO


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