## 68Q25 Analysis of algorithms and problem complexity [See also 68W40]

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- Habilitation (1)
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- approximation algorithm (2) (remove)

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Traditional optimization techniques assume, in general, knowledge of all data of a problem instance. There are many cases in practice, however, where decisions have to be made before complete information about the data is available. In fact, it may be necessary to produce a part of the problem solution as soon as a new piece of information becomes known. This is called an \emph{online situation}, and an algorithm is termed \emph{online}, if it makes a decision (computes a partial solution) whenever a new piece of data requests an action. \emph{Competitive analysis} has become a standard yardstick to measure the quality of online algorithms. One compares the solution produced by an online algorithm to that of an optimal (clairvoyant) offline algorithm. An online algorithm is called $c$-competitive if on every input the solution it produces has cost'' at most $c$~times that of the optimal offline algorithm. This situation can be imagined as a game between an online player and a malicious adversary. Although competitive analysis is a worst-case analysis and henceforth pessimistic, it often allows important insights into the problem structure. One can obtain an idea about what kind of strategies are promising for real-world systems and why. On the other hand there are also cases where the offline adversary is simply too powerful and allows only trivial competitiveness results. This phenomenon is called hitting the triviality barrier''. We investigate several online problems by means of competitive analysis. We also introduce new concepts to overcome the weaknesses of the standard approach and to go beyond the triviality barrier.

An instance of the \emph{maximum coverage} problem is given by a set of weighted ground elements and a cost weighted family of subsets of the ground element set. The goal is to select a subfamily of total cost of at most that of a given budget maximizing the weight of the covered elements. We formulate the problem on graphs: In this situation the set of ground elements is specified by the nodes of a graph, while the family of covering sets is restricted to connected subgraphs. We show that on general graphs the problem is polynomial time solvable if restricted to sets of size at most~$2$, but becomes NP-hard if sets of size~$3$ are permitted. On trees, we prove polynomial time solvability if each node appears in a fixed number of sets. In contrast, if vertices are allowed to appear an unbounded number of times, the problem is NP-hard even on stars. We finally give polynomial time algorithms for special cases where the subgraphs form paths and the host graph is a line, a cycle or a star.