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Proceedings of the 2023 Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA)

Fixed-parameter tractability of DIRECTED MULTICUT with three terminal pairs parameterized by the size of the cutset: twin-width meets flow-augmentation


We show fixed-parameter tractability of the DIRECTED MULTICUT problem with three terminal pairs (with a randomized algorithm). In this problem we are given a directed graph G, three pairs of vertices (called terminals) (s1, t1), (s2, t2), (s3, t3), and an integer k and we want to find a set of at most k non-terminal vertices in G that intersect all s1t1-paths, all s2t2-paths, and all s3t3-paths. The parameterized complexity of this problem has been open since Chitnis, Hajiaghayi, and Marx proved fixed-parameter tractability of the two-terminal-pairs case at SODA 2012, and Pilipczuk and Wahlström proved the W[1]-hardness of the four-terminal-pairs case at SODA 2016.
On the technical side, we use two recent developments in parameterized algorithms. Using the technique of directed flow-augmentation [Kim, Kratsch, Pilipczuk, Wahlström, STOC 2022] we cast the problem as a CSP problem with few variables and constraints over a large ordered domain. We observe that this problem can be in turn encoded as an FO model-checking task over a structure consisting of a few 0-1 matrices. We look at this problem through the lenses of twin-width, a recently introduced structural parameter [Bonnet, Kim, Thomassé, Watrigant, FOCS 2020]: By a recent characterization [Bonnet, Giocanti, Ossona de Mendez, Simon, Thomassé, Toruńczyk, STOC 2022] the said FO model-checking task can be done in FPT time if the said matrices have bounded grid rank. To complete the proof, we show an irrelevant vertex rule: If any of the matrices in the said encoding has a large grid minor, a vertex corresponding to the “middle” box in the grid minor can be proclaimed irrelevant — not contained in the sought solution — and thus reduced.
* The full version of the paper can be accessed at The research leading to the results presented in this paper was partially carried out during the Parameterized Algorithms Retreat of the University of Warsaw, PARUW 2022, held in Bedlewo in April 2022. This research is a part of projects that have received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme Grant Agreement 714704 (TM, MP) and 648527 (MH), from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (MS), from the Research Council of Norway (LJ), and by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and by a fellowship within the IFI programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). (MH).

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Proceedings of the 2023 Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA)
Pages: 3229 - 3244
Editors: Nikhil Bansal, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA and Viswanath Nagarajan, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
ISBN (Online): 978-1-61197-755-4


Published online: 16 January 2023



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