TY - JOUR

T1 - The evolution of the cover time

AU - Barlow, Martin T.

AU - Ding, Jian

AU - Nachmias, Asaf

AU - Peres, Yuval

PY - 2011/5

Y1 - 2011/5

N2 - The cover time of a graph is a celebrated example of a parameter that is easy to approximate using a randomized algorithm, but for which no constant factor deterministic polynomial time approximation is known. A breakthrough due to Kahn, Kim, Lovász and Vu [25] yielded a (log logn)2 polynomial time approximation. We refine the upper bound of [25], and show that the resulting bound is sharp and explicitly computable in random graphs. Cooper and Frieze showed that the cover time of the largest component of the Erdos-Rényi random graph G(n, c/n) in the supercritical regime with c > 1 fixed, is asymptotic to ψ(c)nlog2n, where ψ(c) → 1 as c ↓ 1. However, our new bound implies that the cover time for the critical Erdos-Rényi random graph G(n, 1/n) has order n, and shows how the cover time evolves from the critical window to the supercritical phase. Our general estimate also yields the order of the cover time for a variety of other concrete graphs, including critical percolation clusters on the Hamming hypercube {0, 1}n, on high-girth expanders, and on tori ℤdn for fixed large d. This approach also gives a simpler proof of a result of Aldous [2] that the cover time of a uniform labelled tree on k vertices is of order k3/2. For the graphs we consider, our results show that the blanket time, introduced by Winkler and Zuckerman [45], is within a constant factor of the cover time. Finally, we prove that for any connected graph, adding an edge can increase the cover time by at most a factor of 4.

AB - The cover time of a graph is a celebrated example of a parameter that is easy to approximate using a randomized algorithm, but for which no constant factor deterministic polynomial time approximation is known. A breakthrough due to Kahn, Kim, Lovász and Vu [25] yielded a (log logn)2 polynomial time approximation. We refine the upper bound of [25], and show that the resulting bound is sharp and explicitly computable in random graphs. Cooper and Frieze showed that the cover time of the largest component of the Erdos-Rényi random graph G(n, c/n) in the supercritical regime with c > 1 fixed, is asymptotic to ψ(c)nlog2n, where ψ(c) → 1 as c ↓ 1. However, our new bound implies that the cover time for the critical Erdos-Rényi random graph G(n, 1/n) has order n, and shows how the cover time evolves from the critical window to the supercritical phase. Our general estimate also yields the order of the cover time for a variety of other concrete graphs, including critical percolation clusters on the Hamming hypercube {0, 1}n, on high-girth expanders, and on tori ℤdn for fixed large d. This approach also gives a simpler proof of a result of Aldous [2] that the cover time of a uniform labelled tree on k vertices is of order k3/2. For the graphs we consider, our results show that the blanket time, introduced by Winkler and Zuckerman [45], is within a constant factor of the cover time. Finally, we prove that for any connected graph, adding an edge can increase the cover time by at most a factor of 4.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=80054898437&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/S0963548310000489

DO - 10.1017/S0963548310000489

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AN - SCOPUS:80054898437

SN - 0963-5483

VL - 20

SP - 331

EP - 345

JO - Combinatorics Probability and Computing

JF - Combinatorics Probability and Computing

IS - 3

ER -