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Journal Articles Algorithmica Year : 2022

Introducing lop-Kernels: A Framework for Kernelization Lower Bounds


In the Maximum Minimal Vertex Cover (MMVC) problem, we are given a graph G and a positive integer k, and the objective is to decide whether G contains a minimal vertex cover of size at least k. Motivated by the kernelization of MMVC with parameter k, our main contribution is to introduce a simple general framework to obtain kernelization lower bounds for a certain type of kernels for optimization problems, which we call lop-kernels. Informally, this type of kernels is required to preserve large optimal solutions in the reduced instance, and captures the vast majority of existing kernels in the literature. As a consequence of this framework, we show that the trivial quadratic kernel for MMVC is essentially optimal, answering a question of Boria et al. [Discret. Appl. Math. 2015], and that the known cubic kernel for Maximum Minimal Feedback Vertex Set is also essentially optimal. We present further applications for Tree Deletion Set and for Maximum Independent Set on Kt-free graphs. Back to the MMVC problem, given the (plausible) non-existence of subquadratic kernels for MMVC on general graphs, we provide subquadratic kernels on H-free graphs for several graphs H, such as the bull, the paw, or the complete graphs, by making use of the Erdős-Hajnal property. Finally, we prove that MMVC does not admit polynomial kernels parameterized by the size of a minimum vertex cover of the input graph, even on bipartite graphs, unless NP ⊆ coNP/poly.

Dates and versions

lirmm-03991247 , version 1 (15-02-2023)



Júlio Araújo, Marin Bougeret, Victor Campos, Ignasi Sau. Introducing lop-Kernels: A Framework for Kernelization Lower Bounds. Algorithmica, 2022, 84 (11), pp.3365-3406. ⟨10.1007/s00453-022-00979-z⟩. ⟨lirmm-03991247⟩
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