Polynomial Time Approximation Schemes for Euclidean Traveling Salesman and Other Geometric Problems

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We present a polynomial time approximation scheme for Euclidean TSP in fixed dimensions. For every fixed c > 1 and given any n nodes in ℛ2, a randomized version of the scheme finds a (1 + 1/c)-approximation to the optimum traveling salesman tour in O(n(log n)o(c)) time. When the nodes are in ℛd, the running time increases to O(n(log n)(O(√dc))g-1). For every fixed c, d the running time is n·poly(log n), that is nearly linear in n. The algorithm can be derandomized, but this increases the running time by a factor O(nd). The previous best approximation algorithm for the problem (due to Christofides) achieves a 3/2-approximation in polynomial time. We also give similar approximation schemes for some other NP-hard Euclidean problems: Minimum Steiner Tree, k-TSP, and k-MST. (The running times of the algorithm for k-TSP and k-MST involve an additional multiplicative factor k.) The previous best approximation algorithms for all these problems achieved a constant-factor approximation. We also give efficient approximation schemes for Euclidean Min-Cost Matching, a problem that can be solved exactly in polynomial time. All our algorithms also work, with almost no modification, when distance is measured using any geometric norm (such as ℓp for p ≥ 1 or other Minkowski norms). They also have simple parallel (i.e., NC) implementations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-782
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of the ACM
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Algorithms
  • Approximation Algorithms
  • F.2.2 [Analysis of Algorithms and Problem Complexity]: Geometrical problems and computations, Routing and layout
  • G.2.2 [Graph Theory]: Path and circuit problems, Trees
  • Theory
  • Traveling Salesman Problem


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