Given two polygonal curves in the plane, there are several ways to define a measure of similarity between them. One measure that has been extremely popular in the past is the Frechet distance. Since it has been proposed by Alt and Godau in 1992, many variants and extensions have been described. However, even 20 years later, the original O(n^2 log n) algorithm by Alt and Godau for computing the Frechet distance remains the state of the art (here n denotes the number of vertices on each curve). This has led Helmut Alt to conjecture that the associated decision problem is 3SUM-hard.
In recent work, Agarwal et al. show how to break the quadratic barrier for the discrete version of the Frechet distance, where we consider sequences of points instead of polygonal curves. Building on their work, we give an algorithm to compute the Frechet distance between two polygonal curves in time O(n^2 (log n)^(1/2) (\log\log n)^(3/2)) on a pointer machine and in time O(n^2 (loglog n)^2) on a word RAM. Furthermore, we show that there exists an algebraic decision tree for the Frechet problem of depth O(n^(2-epsilon)), for some epsilon > 0. This provides evidence that computing the Frechet distance may not be 3SUM-hard after all and reveals an intriguing new aspect of this well-studied problem.
|Status||Gepubliceerd - 2012|