The valve location problem in simple network topologies.

H.L. Bodlaender*, A. Grigoriev, N.V. Grigorieva, A. Hendriks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To control possible spills in liquid or gas transporting pipe systems, the systems are usually equipped with shutoff valves. In case of an accidental leak, these valves separate the system into a number of pieces, limiting the spill effect. In this paper, we consider the problem, for a given edge-weighted network representing a pipe system and for a given number of valves, of placing the valves in the network in such a way that the maximum possible spill, i.e., the maximum total weight of a piece, is minimized. We show that the problem is NP-hard even if restricted to any of the following settings: (i) series-parallel graphs, and hence graphs of treewidth two; and (ii) all edge weights equal one. If the network is a simple path, a cycle, or a tree, the problem can be solved in polynomial time. We also give a pseudopolynomial-time algorithm and a fully polynomial-time approximation scheme for networks of bounded treewidth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalInforms Journal on Computing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • valve location problem
  • computational complexity
  • bounded treewidth
  • dynamic programming
  • binary search

Cite this