Combinatorial n-fold integer programming and applications

Dusan Knop, Martin Koutecký, Matthias Mnich

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


Many fundamental NP-hard problems can be formulated as integer linear programs (ILPs). A famous algorithm by Lenstra allows to solve ILPs in time that is exponential only in the dimension of the program. That algorithm therefore became a ubiquitous tool in the design of fixed-parameter algorithms for NP-hard problems, where one wishes to isolate the hardness of a problem by some parameter. However, it was discovered that in many cases using Lenstra’s algorithm has two drawbacks: First, the run time of the resulting algorithms is often doubly-exponential in the parameter, and second, an ILP formulation in small dimension can not easily express problems which involve many different costs. Inspired by the work of Hemmecke, Onn and Romanchuk [Math. Prog. 2013], we develop a single-exponential algorithm for so-called combinatorial n-fold integer programs, which are remarkably similar to prior ILP formulations for various problems, but unlike them, also allow variable dimension. We then apply our algorithm to a few representative problems like Closest String, Swap Bribery, Weighted Set Multicover, and obtain exponential speedups in the dependence on the respective parameters, the input size, or both. Unlike Lenstra’s algorithm, which is essentially a bounded search tree algorithm, our result uses the technique of augmenting steps. At its heart is a deep result stating that in combinatorial n-fold IPs an existence of an augmenting step implies an existence of a “local” augmenting step, which can be found using dynamic programming. Our results provide an important insight into many problems by showing that they exhibit this phenomenon, and highlights the importance of augmentation techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication25th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2017)
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-3-95977-049-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

SeriesLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)


  • integer programming
  • closest strings
  • fixed-parameter algorithms

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