Lossless Online Rounding for Online Bipartite Matching (Despite its Impossibility)

Niv Buchbinder, Joseph Naor, David Wajc

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


For numerous online bipartite matching problems, such as edge-weighted matching and matching under two-sided vertex arrivals, the state-of-the-art fractional algorithms outperform their randomized integral counterparts. This gap is surprising, given that the bipartite fractional matching polytope is integral, and so lossless rounding is possible. This gap was explained by Devanur et al. (SODA'13), who showed that online lossless rounding is impossible. Despite the above, we initiate the study of lossless online rounding for online bipartite matching problems. Our key observation is that while lossless online rounding is impossible in general, randomized algorithms induce fractional algorithms of the same competitive ratio which by definition are losslessly roundable online. This motivates the addition of constraints that decrease the “online integrality gap”, thus allowing for lossless online rounding. We characterize a set of non-convex constraints which allow for such lossless online rounding, and better competitive ratios than yielded by deterministic algorithms. As applications of our lossless online rounding approach, we obtain two results of independent interest: (i) a doubly-exponential improvement, and a sharp threshold for the amount of randomness (or advice) needed to outperform deterministic online (vertex-weighted) bipartite matching algorithms, and (ii) an optimal semi-OCS, matching a recent result of Gao et al. (FOCS'21) answering a question of Fahrbach et al. (FOCS'20).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication34th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, SODA 2023
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9781611977554
StatePublished - 2023
Event34th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, SODA 2023 - Florence, Italy
Duration: 22 Jan 202325 Jan 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms


Conference34th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, SODA 2023


FundersFunder number
Stanford University
United States - Israel Binational Science Foundation2018352
Carnegie Mellon University
Israel Science Foundation2233/19


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