Geometric Stabbing via Threshold Rounding and Factor Revealing LPs

Khaled Elbassioni, Saurabh Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kovaleva and Spieksma (SIAM J Discrete Math 20(3):48–768, 2006) considered the problem of stabbing a given set of horizontal line segments with the smallest number of horizontal and vertical lines. The standard LP relaxation for this problem is easily shown to have an integrality gap of at most 2 by treating the horizontal and vertical lines separately. However, Kovaleva and Spieksma observed that threshold rounding can be used to obtain an integrality gap of e/(e-1)≈1.58 which is also shown to be tight. This is one of the rare known examples where the obvious upper bound of 2 on the integrality gap of the standard LP relaxation can be improved. Our goal in this paper is to extend their proof to two other problems where the goal is to stab a set R of objects with horizontal and vertical lines: in the first problem R is a set of horizontal and vertical line segments, and in the second problem R is a set of unit sized squares. The proof of Kovaleva and Spieksma essentially shows the existence of an appropriate threshold which yields the improved approximation factor. We begin by showing that a random threshold picked from an appropriate distribution works. This reduces the problem to finding an appropriate distribution for a desired approximation ratio. In the first problem, we show that the required distribution can be found by solving a linear program. In the second problem, while it seems harder to find the optimal distribution, we show that using the uniform distribution an improved approximation factor can still be obtained by solving a number of linear programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-822
Number of pages36
JournalDiscrete and Computational Geometry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • 68W25
  • Integrality gap
  • Rectangle stabbing
  • Threshold rounding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics
  • Geometry and Topology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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