Metric Embedding via Shortest Path Decompositions

Ittai Abraham, Arnold Filtser, Anupam Gupta, Ofer Neiman

We study the problem of embedding shortest-path metrics of weighted graphs into $\ell_p$ spaces. We introduce a new embedding technique based on low-depth decompositions of a graph via shortest paths. The notion of Shortest Path Decomposition depth is inductively defined: A (weighed) path graph has shortest path decomposition (SPD) depth $1$. General graph has an SPD of depth $k$ if it contains a shortest path whose deletion leads to a graph, each of whose components has SPD depth at most $k-1$. In this paper we give an $O(k^{\min\{\frac{1}{p},\frac{1}{2}\}})$-distortion embedding for graphs of SPD depth at most $k$. This result is asymptotically tight for any fixed $p>1$, while for $p=1$ it is tight up to second order terms. As a corollary of this result, we show that graphs having pathwidth $k$ embed into $\ell_p$ with distortion $O(k^{\min\{\frac{1}{p},\frac{1}{2}\}})$. For $p=1$, this improves over the best previous bound of Lee and Sidiropoulos that was exponential in $k$; moreover, for other values of $p$ it gives the first embeddings whose distortion is independent of the graph size $n$. Furthermore, we use the fact that planar graphs have SPD depth $O(\log n)$ to give a new proof that any planar graph embeds into $\ell_1$ with distortion $O(\sqrt{\log n})$. Our approach also gives new results for graphs with bounded treewidth, and for graphs excluding a fixed minor.

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