FPT Approximation for Fair Minimum-Load Clustering

Sayan Bandyapadhyay, Fedor V. Fomin, Petr A. Golovach, Nidhi Purohit, Kirill Simonov

In this paper, we consider the Minimum-Load $k$-Clustering/Facility Location (MLkC) problem where we are given a set $P$ of $n$ points in a metric space that we have to cluster and an integer $k$ that denotes the number of clusters. Additionally, we are given a set $F$ of cluster centers in the same metric space. The goal is to select a set $C\subseteq F$ of $k$ centers and assign each point in $P$ to a center in $C$, such that the maximum load over all centers is minimized. Here the load of a center is the sum of the distances between it and the points assigned to it. Although clustering/facility location problems have a rich literature, the minimum-load objective is not studied substantially, and hence MLkC has remained a poorly understood problem. More interestingly, the problem is notoriously hard even in some special cases including the one in line metrics as shown by Ahmadian et al. [ACM Trans. Algo. 2018]. They also show APX-hardness of the problem in the plane. On the other hand, the best-known approximation factor for MLkC is $O(k)$, even in the plane. In this work, we study a fair version of MLkC inspired by the work of Chierichetti et al. [NeurIPS, 2017], which generalizes MLkC. Here the input points are colored by one of the $\ell$ colors denoting the group they belong to. MLkC is the special case with $\ell=1$. Considering this problem, we are able to obtain a $3$-approximation in $f(k,\ell)\cdot n^{O(1)}$ time. Also, our scheme leads to an improved $(1 + \epsilon)$-approximation in case of Euclidean norm, and in this case, the running time depends only polynomially on the dimension $d$. Our results imply the same approximations for MLkC with running time $f(k)\cdot n^{O(1)}$, achieving the first constant approximations for this problem in general and Euclidean metric spaces.

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