On the Hardness of Computing an Average Curve

Martijn A.C. Struijs, Kevin A. Buchin, Anne Driemel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We study the complexity of clustering curves under k-median and k-center objectives in the metric space of the Fréchet distance and related distance measures. Building upon recent hardness results for the minimum-enclosing-ball problem under the Fréchet distance, we show that also the 1-median problem is NP-hard. Furthermore, we show that the 1-median problem is W[1]-hard with the number of curves as parameter. We show this under the discrete and continuous Fréchet and Dynamic Time Warping (DTW) distance. This yields an independent proof of an earlier result by Bulteau et al. from 2018 for a variant of DTW that uses squared distances, where the new proof is both simpler and more general. On the positive side, we give approximation algorithms for problem variants where the center curve may have complexity at most ℓ under the discrete Fréchet distance. In particular, for fixed k, ℓ and ε, we give (1+ε)-approximation algorithms for the (k,ℓ)-median and (k,ℓ)-center objectives and a polynomial-time exact algorithm for the (k,ℓ)-center objective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th Scandinavian Symposium and Workshops on Algorithm Theory, SWAT 2020
Subtitle of host publicationSWAT 2020
EditorsSusanne Albers
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-95977-150-4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969


  • Curves
  • Clustering
  • Algorithms
  • Hardness
  • Approximation


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