Approximate multi-matroid intersection via iterative refinement

André Linhares, Neil Olver, Chaitanya Swamy*, Rico Zenklusen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    We introduce a new iterative rounding technique to round a point in a matroid polytope subject to further matroid constraints. This technique returns an independent set in one matroid with limited violations of the constraints of the other matroids. In addition to the classical steps of iterative relaxation approaches, we iteratively refine involved matroid constraints. This leads to more restrictive constraint systems whose structure can be exploited to prove the existence of constraints that can be dropped. Hence, throughout the iterations, we both tighten constraints and later relax them by dropping constraints under certain conditions. Due to the refinement step, we can deal with considerably more general constraint classes than existing iterative relaxation and rounding methods, which typically involve a single matroid polytope with additional simple cardinality constraints that do not overlap too much. We show that our rounding method, combined with an application of a matroid intersection algorithm, yields the first 2-approximation for finding a maximum-weight common independent set in 3 matroids. Moreover, our 2-approximation is LP-based and settles the integrality gap for the natural relaxation of the problem. Prior to our work, no upper bound better than 3 was known for the integrality gap, which followed from the greedy algorithm. We also discuss various other applications of our techniques, including an extension that allows us to handle a mixture of matroid and knapsack constraints.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-418
    Number of pages22
    JournalMathematical Programming
    Issue number1-2
    Early online date15 Jun 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


    We are thankful to Lap Chi Lau for pointing us to relevant literature, and to the anonymous referees for helpful suggestions for improving the exposition.

    FundersFunder number
    Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada327620-09
    Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung200021_184622, 200021_165866
    Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


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