Lower Bounds for Local Approximation

Mika Göös, Juho Hirvonen, Jukka Suomela

In the study of deterministic distributed algorithms it is commonly assumed that each node has a unique $O(\log n)$-bit identifier. We prove that for a general class of graph problems, local algorithms (constant-time distributed algorithms) do not need such identifiers: a port numbering and orientation is sufficient. Our result holds for so-called simple PO-checkable graph optimisation problems; this includes many classical packing and covering problems such as vertex covers, edge covers, matchings, independent sets, dominating sets, and edge dominating sets. We focus on the case of bounded-degree graphs and show that if a local algorithm finds a constant-factor approximation of a simple PO-checkable graph problem with the help of unique identifiers, then the same approximation ratio can be achieved on anonymous networks. As a corollary of our result and by prior work, we derive a tight lower bound on the local approximability of the minimum edge dominating set problem. Our main technical tool is an algebraic construction of homogeneously ordered graphs: We say that a graph is $(\alpha,r)$-homogeneous if its nodes are linearly ordered so that an $\alpha$ fraction of nodes have pairwise isomorphic radius-$r$ neighbourhoods. We show that there exists a finite $(\alpha,r)$-homogeneous $2k$-regular graph of girth at least $g$ for any $\alpha < 1$ and any $r$, $k$, and $g$.

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