Putting your coin collection on a shelf

Otfried Cheong

School of Computing, KAIST

School of Computing, KAIST

2017/04/03 Monday 4PM-5PM

Imagine you want to present your collection of n coins on a shelf, taking as little space as possible – how should you arrange the coins?

More precisely, we are given n circular disks of different radii, and we want to place them in the plane so that they touch the x-axis from above, such that no two disks overlap. The goal is to minimize the length of the range from the leftmost point on a disk to the rightmost point on a disk.

On this seemingly innocent problem we will meet a wide range of algorithmic concepts: An efficient algorithm for a special case, an NP-hardness proof, an approximation algorithm with a guaranteed approximation factor, APX-hardness, and a quasi-polynomial time approximation scheme.

More precisely, we are given n circular disks of different radii, and we want to place them in the plane so that they touch the x-axis from above, such that no two disks overlap. The goal is to minimize the length of the range from the leftmost point on a disk to the rightmost point on a disk.

On this seemingly innocent problem we will meet a wide range of algorithmic concepts: An efficient algorithm for a special case, an NP-hardness proof, an approximation algorithm with a guaranteed approximation factor, APX-hardness, and a quasi-polynomial time approximation scheme.

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