Combinatorial Optimization for Infinite Games on Graphs

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Games on graphs have become an indispensable tool in modern computer science. They provide powerful and expressive models for numerous phenomena and are extensively used in computer- aided verification, automata theory, logic, complexity theory, computational biology, etc.The infinite games on finite graphs we study in this thesis have their primary applications in verification, but are also of fundamental importance from the complexity-theoretic point of view. They include parity, mean payoff, and simple stochastic games.We focus on solving graph games by using iterative strategy improvement and methods from linear programming and combinatorial optimization. To this end we consider old strategy evaluation functions, construct new ones, and show how all of them, due to their structural similarities, fit into a unifying combinatorial framework. This allows us to employ randomized optimization methods from combinatorial linear programming to solve the games in expected subexponential time.We introduce and study the concept of a controlled optimization problem, capturing the essential features of many graph games, and provide sufficent conditions for solvability of such problems in expected subexponential time.The discrete strategy evaluation function for mean payoff games we derive from the new controlled longest-shortest path problem, leads to improvement algorithms that are considerably more efficient than the previously known ones, and also improves the efficiency of algorithms for parity games.We also define the controlled linear programming problem, and show how the games are translated into this setting. Subclasses of the problem, more general than the games considered, are shown to belong to NP intersection coNP, or even to be solvable by subexponential algorithms.Finally, we take the first steps in investigating the fixed-parameter complexity of parity, Rabin, Streett, and Muller games.

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