Project Team Realopt

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Section: Scientific Foundations

Polyhedral Combinatorics and Graph Theory

Many fundamental combinatorial optimization problems can be modeled as the search for a specific structure in a graph. For example, ensuring connectivity in a network amounts to building a tree that spans all the nodes. Inquiring about its resistance to failure amounts to searching for a minimum cardinality cut that partitions the graph. Selecting disjoint pairs of objects is represented by a so-called matching. Disjunctive choices can be modeled by edges in a so-called conflict graph where one searches for stable sets – a set of nodes that are not incident to one another. Polyhedral combinatorics is the study of combinatorial algorithms involving polyhedral considerations. Not only it leads to efficient algorithms, but also, conversely, efficient algorithms often imply polyhedral characterizations and related min-max relations. Developments of polyhedral properties of a fundamental problem will typically provide us with more interesting inequalities well suited for a branch-and-cut algorithm to more general problems. Furthermore, one can use the fundamental problems as new building bricks to decompose the more general problem at hand. For problem that let themselves easily be formulated in a graph setting, the graph theory and in particular graph decomposition theorem might help.