New Reduction Rules for the Tree Bisection and Reconnection Distance

Steven Kelk*, Simone Linz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Recently it was shown that, if the subtree and chain reduction rules have been applied exhaustively to two unrooted phylogenetic trees, the reduced trees will have at most 15k - 9 taxa where k is the TBR (Tree Bisection and Reconnection) distance between the two trees, and that this bound is tight. Here, we propose five new reduction rules and show that these further reduce the bound to 11k - 9. The new rules combine the "unrooted generator" approach introduced in Kelk and Linz (SIAM J Discrete Math 33(3):1556-1574, 2019) with a careful analysis of agreement forests to identify (i) situations when chains of length 3 can be further shortened without reducing the TBR distance, and (ii) situations when small subtrees can be identified whose deletion is guaranteed to reduce the TBR distance by 1. To the best of our knowledge these are the first reduction rules that strictly enhance the reductive power of the subtree and chain reduction rules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-502
Number of pages28
JournalAnnals of Combinatorics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Fixed-parameter tractability
  • Tree bisection and reconnection
  • Generator
  • Kernelization
  • Agreement forest
  • Phylogenetic network
  • Phylogenetic tree
  • Hybridization number

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