On Covering Points with Conics and Strips in the Plane
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Geometric covering problems have always been of focus in computer scientific research. The generic geometric covering problem asks to cover a set S of n objects with another set of objects whose cardinality is minimum, in a geometric setting. Many versions of geometric cover have been studied in detail, one of which is line cover: Given a set of points in the plane, find the minimum number of lines to cover them. In Euclidean space Rm, this problem is known as Hyperplane Cover, where lines are replaced by affine hyperplanes bounded by dimension d. Line cover is NP-hard, so is its hyperplane analogue. Our thesis focuses on few extensions of hyperplane cover and line cover. One of the techniques used to study NP-hard problems is Fixed Parameter Tractability (FPT), where, in addition to input size, a parameter k is provided for input instance. We ask to solve the problem with respect to k, such that the running time is a function in both n and k, strictly polynomial in n, while the exponential component is limited to k. In this thesis, we study FPT and parameterized complexity theory, the theory of classifying hard problems involving a parameter k. We focus on two new geometric covering problems: covering a set of points in the plane with conics (conic cover) and covering a set of points with strips or fat lines of given width in the plane (fat line cover). A conic is a non-degenerate curve of degree two in the plane. A fat line is defined as a strip of finite width w. In this dissertation, we focus on the parameterized versions of these two problems, where, we are asked to cover the set of points with k conics or k fat lines. We use the existing techniques of FPT algorithms, kernelization and approximation algorithms to study these problems. We do a comprehensive study of these problems, starting with NP-hardness results to studying their parameterized hardness in terms of parameter k. We show that conic cover is fixed parameter tractable, and give an algorithm of running time O∗ ((k/1.38)^4k), where, O∗ implies that the running time is some polynomial in input size. Utilizing special properties of a parabola, we are able to achieve a faster algorithm and show a running time of O∗ ((k/1.15)^3k). For fat line cover, first we establish its NP-hardness, then we explore algorithmic possibilities with respect to parameterized complexity theory. We show W -hardness of fat line cover with respect to the number of fat lines, by showing a parameterized reduction from the problem of stabbing axis-parallel squares in the plane. A parameterized reduction is an algorithm which transforms an instance of one parameterized problem into an instance of another parameterized problem using a FPT-algorithm. In addition, we show that some restricted versions of fat line cover are also W -hard. Further, in this thesis, we explore a restricted version of fat line cover, where the set of points are integer coordinates and allow only axis-parallel lines to cover them. We show that the problem is still NP-hard. We also show that this version is fixed parameter tractable having a kernel size of O (k^2) and give a FPT-algorithm with a running time of O∗ (3^k). Finally, we conclude our study on this problem by giving an approximation algorithm for this version having a constant approximation ratio 2.
Tiwari, Praveen 1985- (2012). On Covering Points with Conics and Strips in the Plane. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from