New bounds on augmenting steps of block-structured integer programs

Lin Chen, Martin Koutecký, Lei Xu, Weidong Shi

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


Iterative augmentation has recently emerged as an overarching method for solving Integer Programs (IP) in variable dimension, in stark contrast with the volume and flatness techniques of IP in fixed dimension. Here we consider 4-block n-fold integer programs, which are the most general class considered so far. A 4-block n-fold IP has a constraint matrix which consists of n copies of small matrices A, B, and D, and one copy of C, in a specific block structure. Iterative augmentation methods rely on the so-called Graver basis of the constraint matrix, which constitutes a set of fundamental augmenting steps. All existing algorithms rely on bounding the ℓ1- or ℓ-norm of elements of the Graver basis. Hemmecke et al. [Math. Prog. 2014] showed that 4-block n-fold IP has Graver elements of `∞-norm at most OFPT(n2sD ), leading to an algorithm with a similar runtime; here, sD is the number of rows of matrix D and OFPT hides a multiplicative factor that is only dependent on the small matrices A, B, C, D, However, it remained open whether their bounds are tight, in particular, whether they could be improved to OFPT(1), perhaps at least in some restricted cases. We prove that the `∞-norm of the Graver elements of 4-block n-fold IP is upper bounded by OFPT(nsD ), improving significantly over the previous bound OFPT(n2sD ). We also provide a matching lower bound of Ω(nsD ) which even holds for arbitrary non-zero lattice elements, ruling out augmenting algorithm relying on even more restricted notions of augmentation than the Graver basis. We then consider a special case of 4-block n-fold in which C is a zero matrix, called 3-block n-fold IP. We show that while the `∞-norm of its Graver elements is Ω(nsD ), there exists a different decomposition into lattice elements whose `∞-norm is bounded by OFPT(1), which allows us to provide improved upper bounds on the `∞-norm of Graver elements for 3-block n-fold IP. The key difference between the respective decompositions is that a Graver basis guarantees a sign-compatible decomposition; this property is critical in applications because it guarantees each step of the decomposition to be feasible. Consequently, our improved upper bounds let us establish faster algorithms for 3-block n-fold IP and 4-block IP, and our lower bounds strongly hint at parameterized hardness of 4-block and even 3-block n-fold IP. Furthermore, we show that 3-block n-fold IP is without loss of generality in the sense that 4-block n-fold IP can be solved in FPT oracle time by taking an algorithm for 3-block n-fold IP as an oracle.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication28th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2020
EditorsFabrizio Grandoni, Grzegorz Herman, Peter Sanders
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl- Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783959771627
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020
Event28th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2020 - Virtual, Pisa, Italy
Duration: Sep 7 2020Sep 9 2020

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs
ISSN (Print)1868-8969


Conference28th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2020
CityVirtual, Pisa


  • Fixed parameter tractable
  • Graver basis
  • Integer Programming


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