The invited speaker for APPROX 2021 will be Vera Traub (ETH Zurich)

**Title of the talk**: Better-Than-2 Approximations for Weighted Tree Augmentation

**Abstract:**

The Weighted Tree Augmentation Problem (WTAP) is one of the most basic connectivity augmentation problems. It asks how to increase the edge-connectivity of a given graph from 1 to 2 in the cheapest possible way by adding some additional edges from a given set. There are many standard techniques that lead to a 2-approximation for WTAP, but despite much progress on special cases, the factor 2 remained unbeaten for several decades.

In this talk we present two algorithms for WTAP that improve on the longstanding approximation ratio of 2. The first algorithm is a relative greedy algorithm, which starts with a simple, though weak, solution and iteratively replaces parts of this starting solution by stronger components. This algorithm achieves an approximation ratio of (1 + ln 2 + epsilon) < 1.7. Second, we present a local search algorithm that achieves an approximation ratio of 1.5 + epsilon (for any constant epsilon > 0).

This is joint work with Rico Zenklusen.

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