In search of a thin tree - new approximation algorithms for the asymmetric traveling salesman problem

ACO Colloquium
Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 16:30
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
Stanford University

Refreshments at 4:00PM in Skiles 236

I will talk about new approximation algorithms for the Asymmetric Traveling Salesman Problem (ATSP) when the costs satisfy the triangle inequality. Our approach is based on constructing a "thin" spanning tree from the solution of a classical linear programming relaxation of the problem and augmenting the tree to an Eulerian subgraph. I will talk about Goddyn's conjecture on the existence of such trees and its relations to nowhere-zero flows. I will present an O(log n/log log n) approximation algorithm that uses a new randomized rounding method. Our rounding method is based on sampling from a distribution and could be of independent interest. Also, I will talk about the special case where the underlying undirected graph of the LP relaxation of the problem has bounded genus. This is the case for example, when the distance functions are shortest paths in a city with few bridges and underpasses. We give a constant factor approximation algorithm in that case. The first result is a joint work with A. Asadpour, M. Goemans, A. Madry and S. Oveis Gharan, and the second result is a joint work with S. Oveis Gharan.