We present a simple distributed $\Delta$-approximation algorithm for maximum weight independent set (MaxIS) in the $\mathsf{CONGEST}$ model which completes in $O(\texttt{MIS}(G)\cdot \log W)$ rounds, where $\Delta$ is the maximum degree, $\texttt{MIS}(G)$ is the number of rounds needed to compute a maximal independent set (MIS) on $G$, and $W$ is the maximum weight of a node. %Whether our algorithm is randomized or deterministic depends on the \texttt{MIS} algorithm used as a black-box. Plugging in the best known algorithm for MIS gives a randomized solution in $O(\log n \log W)$ rounds, where $n$ is the number of nodes. We also present a deterministic $O(\Delta +\log^* n)$-round algorithm based on coloring. We then show how to use our MaxIS approximation algorithms to compute a $2$-approximation for maximum weight matching without incurring any additional round penalty in the $\mathsf{CONGEST}$ model. We use a known reduction for simulating algorithms on the line graph while incurring congestion, but we show our algorithm is part of a broad family of \emph{local aggregation algorithms} for which we describe a mechanism that allows the simulation to run in the $\mathsf{CONGEST}$ model without an additional overhead. Next, we show that for maximum weight matching, relaxing the approximation factor to ($2+\varepsilon$) allows us to devise a distributed algorithm requiring $O(\frac{\log \Delta}{\log\log\Delta})$ rounds for any constant $\varepsilon>0$. For the unweighted case, we can even obtain a $(1+\varepsilon)$-approximation in this number of rounds. These algorithms are the first to achieve the provably optimal round complexity with respect to dependency on $\Delta$.

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