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The probabilistic relationship between the assignment and travelling salesman problems

By Alan Frieze and Gregory B. Sorkin


We consider the gap between the cost of an optimal assignment in a complete bipartite graph with random edge weights, and the cost of an optimal traveling salesman tour in a complete directed graph with the same edge weights. Using an improved “patching” heuristic, we show that with high probability the gap is $O((\ln n)^2/n)$, and that its expectation is $\Omega(1/n)$. One of the underpinnings of this result is that the largest edge weight in an optimal assignment has expectation $\Theta(\ln n / n)$. A consequence of the small assignment–TSP gap is an $e^{\tilde{O}(\sqrt{n})}$‐time algorithm which, with high probability, exactly solves a random asymmetric traveling salesman instance. In addition to the assignment–TSP gap, we also consider the expected gap between the optimal and second‐best assignments; it is at least $\Omega(1/n^2)$ and at most $O(\ln n/n^2)$

Topics: QA Mathematics
Publisher: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1137/S0097539701391518
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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