IBS/KAIST Joint Discrete Math Seminar

Integrality of set covering polyhedra and clutter minors

2019/07/16 Tue 4:30PM-5:30PM

Given a finite set of elements $V$ and a family $\mathcal{C}$ of subsets of $V$, the set covering problem is to find a minimum cardinality subset of $V$ intersecting every subset in the family $\mathcal{C}$. The set covering problem, also known as the hitting set problem, admits a simple integer linear programming formulation. The constraint system of the integer linear programming formulation defines a polyhedron, and we call it the set covering polyhedron of $\mathcal{C}$. We say that a set covering polyhedron is integral if every extreme point is an integer lattice point. Although the set covering problem is NP-hard in general, conditions under which the problem becomes polynomially solvable have been studied. If the set covering polyhedron is integral, then it is straightforward that the problem can be solved using a polynomial-time algorithm for linear programming.

In this talk, we will focus on the question of when the set covering polyhedron is integral. We say that the family $\mathcal{C}$ is a clutter if every subset in $\mathcal{C}$ is inclusion-wise minimal. As taking out non-minimal subsets preserves integrality, we may assume that $\mathcal{C}$ is a clutter. We call $\mathcal{C}$ ideal if the set covering polyhedron of it is integral. To understand when a clutter is ideal, the notion of clutter minors is important in that $\mathcal{C}$ is ideal if and only if so is every minor of it. We will study two fundamental classes of non-ideal clutters, namely, deltas and the blockers of extended odd holes. We will characterize when a clutter contains either a delta or the blocker of an extended odd hole as a minor.

This talk is based on joint works with Ahmad Abdi and G\’erard Cornu\’ejols.