The Alcuin number of a graph and its connections to the vertex cover number

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Abstract

We consider a planning problem that generalizes Alcuin's river crossing problem to scenarios with arbitrary conflict graphs. This generalization leads to the so-called Alcuin number of the underlying conflict graph. We derive a variety of combinatorial, structural, algorithmical, and complexity theoretical results around the Alcuin number. Our technical main result is an NP-certificate for the Alcuin number. It turns out that the Alcuin number of a graph is closely related to the size of a minimum vertex cover in the graph, and we unravel several surprising connections between these two graph parameters. We provide hardness results and a fixed parameter tractability result for computing the Alcuin number. Furthermore we demonstrate that the Alcuin number of chordal graphs, bipartite graphs, and planar graphs is substantially easier to analyze than the Alcuin number of general graphs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-769
JournalSIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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