A Graph Theoretical Approach to Network Encoding Complexity

Li Xu, Weiping Shang, Guangyue Han

Consider an acyclic directed network $G$ with sources $S_1, S_2,..., S_l$ and distinct sinks $R_1, R_2,..., R_l$. For $i=1, 2,..., l$, let $c_i$ denote the min-cut between $S_i$ and $R_i$. Then, by Menger's theorem, there exists a group of $c_i$ edge-disjoint paths from $S_i$ to $R_i$, which will be referred to as a group of Menger's paths from $S_i$ to $R_i$ in this paper. Although within the same group they are edge-disjoint, the Menger's paths from different groups may have to merge with each other. It is known that by choosing Menger's paths appropriately, the number of mergings among different groups of Menger's paths is always bounded by a constant, which is independent of the size and the topology of $G$. The tightest such constant for the all the above-mentioned networks is denoted by $\mathcal{M}(c_1, c_2,..., c_2)$ when all $S_i$'s are distinct, and by $\mathcal{M}^*(c_1, c_2,..., c_2)$ when all $S_i$'s are in fact identical. It turns out that $\mathcal{M}$ and $\mathcal{M}^*$ are closely related to the network encoding complexity for a variety of networks, such as multicast networks, two-way networks and networks with multiple sessions of unicast. Using this connection, we compute in this paper some exact values and bounds in network encoding complexity using a graph theoretical approach.

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