Multi-target Ray Searching Problems



We consider the problem of exploring m concurrent rays using a single searcher. The rays are disjoint with the exception of a single common point, and in each ray a potential target may be located. The objective is to design efficient search strategies for locating t targets (with t ≤ m). This setting generalizes the extensively studied ray search (or star search) problem, in which the searcher seeks a single target. In addition, it is motivated by applications such as the interleaved execution of heuristic algorithms, when it is required that a certain number of heuristics have to successfully terminate. We apply two different measures for evaluating the efficiency of the search strategy. The first measure is the standard metric in the context of ray-search problems, and compares the total search cost to the cost of an optimal algorithm that has full information on the targets. We present a strategy that achieves optimal competitive ratio under this metric. The second measure is based on a weakening of the optimal cost as proposed by Kirkpatrick [ESA 2009] and McGregor et al. [ESA 2009]. For this model, we present an asymptotically optimal strategy which is within a multiplicative factor of Θ(log (m-t)) from the optimal search cost. Interestingly, our strategy incorporates three fundamental search paradigms, namely uniform search, doubling and hyperbolic dovetailing. Moreover, for both measures, our results demonstrate that the problem of locating t targets in m rays is essentially as difficult as the problem of locating a single target in m-(t-1) rays.

Bibtex Entry