In a classical covering problem, we are given a set of requests that we need to satisfy (fully or partially), by buying a subset of items at minimum cost. For example, in the k-MST problem we want to find the cheapest tree spanning at least k nodes of an edge-weighted graph. Here nodes and edges represent requests and items, respectively. In this paper, we initiate the study of a new family of multi-layer covering problems. Each such problem consists of a collection of h distinct instances of a standard covering problem (layers), with the constraint that all layers share the same set of requests. We identify two main subfamilies of these problems: - in a union multi-layer problem, a request is satisfied if it is satisfied in at least one layer; - in an intersection multi-layer problem, a request is satisfied if it is satisfied in all layers. To see some natural applications, consider both generalizations of k-MST. Union k-MST can model a problem where we are asked to connect a set of users to at least one of two communication networks, e.g., a wireless and a wired network. On the other hand, intersection k-MST can formalize the problem of connecting a subset of users to both electricity and water. We present a number of hardness and approximation results for union and intersection versions of several standard optimization problems: MST, Steiner tree, set cover, facility location, TSP, and their partial covering variants
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