Finding A Small Vertex Cover in Massive Sparse Graphs: Construct, Local Search, and Preprocess

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Abstract

The problem of finding a minimum vertex cover (MinVC) in a graph is a well known NP-hard combinatorial optimization problem of great importance in theory and practice. Due to its NP-hardness, there has been much interest in developing heuristic algorithms for finding a small vertex cover in reasonable time. Previously, heuristic algorithms for MinVC have focused on solving graphs of relatively small size, and they are not suitable for solving massive graphs as they usually have high-complexity heuristics. This paper explores techniques for solving MinVC in very large scale real-world graphs, including a construction algorithm, a local search algorithm and a preprocessing algorithm. Both the construction and search algorithms are based on low-complexity heuristics, and we combine them to develop a heuristic algorithm for MinVC called FastVC. Experimental results on a broad range of real-world massive graphs show that, our algorithms are very fast and have better performance than previous heuristic algorithms for MinVC. We also develop a preprocessing algorithm to simplify graphs for MinVC algorithms. By applying the preprocessing algorithm to local search algorithms, we obtain two efficient MinVC solvers called NuMVC2+p and FastVC2+p, which show further improvement on the massive graphs.

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