Please, read the whole question before answering, the exact details of the implementation are important.

Suppose that you want to find largest cardinality bipartite matching in bipartite graph with $V = L + R$ vertices ($L$ is the number of vertices in the left-hand side and $R$ is the number of the vertices in the right-hand side) and $E$ edges. You may assume that graph is connected, therefore $E \geqslant V - 1$.

Vertices in the left-hand side are numbered with integers from range $[0, L)$. Similarly, vertices in the right-hand side are numbered with integers from range $[0, R)$. Then, the classic implementation of Kuhn's bipartite matching algorithm looks like this:

bool dfs_Kuhn (v, neigh, used, left_match, right_match):
    if used[v]
        return false
    used[v] = true

    for dest in neigh[v]
        if right_match[dest] == -1 || dfs(right_match[dest], neigh, used, left_match, right_match)
            left_match[v] = dest
            right_match[dest] = v
            return true

    return false

int bipartite_matching_size (neigh):
    left_match = [-1 repeated L times]
    right_match = [-1 repeated R times]

    for i in [0, L)
        used = [false repeated L times]
        dfs_Kuhn(i, neigh, used, left_match, right_match) 
    return L - (number of occurences of -1 in left_match)

This implementation works in $O(VE)$ time, moreover the bound is tight more or less independently of relations between $V$ and $E$. In other words, the bound is tight for sparse graphs ($E = O(V)$), for dense graphs ($E = \Omega(V^2)$) and for everything in-between.

There is an implementation that works much faster in practice. The $\texttt{dfs_Kuhn}$ function does not change, but $\texttt{bipartite_matching_size}$ changes:

int bipartite_matching_size_fast (neigh):
    left_match = [-1 repeated L times]
    right_match = [-1 repeated R times]

    for row in neigh

    while true
        used = [false repeated L times]
        found_path = false 
        for i in [0, L)
            if left_match[i] == -1
                found_path |= dfs_Kuhn(i, neigh, used, left_match, right_match) 

        if !found_path

    return L - (number of occurences of -1 in left_match)

Of course, upper bound of $O(VE)$ can be proven for the faster version as well. Lower bounds are completely different story, though.

We used two optimizations:

  1. The block of code inside $\texttt{while true}$ works in total $O(E)$ time, but often finds several disjoint augmenting paths, instead of at most one, as did the block inside $\texttt{for i in [0, L)}$ in the original code.

  2. The order of vertices in the left-hand side and the order in which the for-loop $\texttt{for dest in neigh[v]}$ considers their neighbours are now random.

If only the first of these two optimisations is used, there are some relatively well-known degenerate cases when the code still takes $\Omega(VE)$ time. However, almost all such cases that I know abuse specific ordering of neighbours of the left-hand side vertices, so the $\texttt{dfs_Kuhn}$ function is forced to repeatedly go along some fixed very long path and "flip it". Therefore, they fall apart when the second optimisation is added.

Moreover, the second optimisation can be implemented in a slightly different ("stronger", more random) way. Instead of shuffling order of the left-hand side vertices and their adjacency lists once, we can do that in the start of each iteration of the $\texttt{while true}$ cycle. Upper bounds that use the stronger variation of the second optimisation are also fine for purposes of this question.

The only semi-strong test I know is a dense ($E = \Theta(V^2)$) graph, in which the fast version of Kuhn's algorithm takes $\Omega(V^3 / \log V)$ time. However, all my attempts to generalise that construction to sparse graphs (the case I am most interested in) were unsuccesful.

So, I want to ask the following question. Is something known about runtime of this fast version of Kuhn's algorithm on sparse graphs? Any nontrivial lower bounds (better than $\Theta(E \cdot \log V)$)? Maybe some upper bounds (one my friend believes that this algorithm always runs in $O(E \sqrt{E})$ time, which seems to be the case on random bipartite graphs)?

P. S. For trees, the runtime is $\Theta(V \log V)$ with random shuffles, but $\Omega (V^2)$ on some tests without shuffles, so there is some non-experimental evidence that random shuffles do indeed help.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In the third line of the first pseudo-code I think you meant to say return false instead of return v. Additionally when calling dfs for the first time, first argument I think should be right_match[dest] instead of dest. $\endgroup$ – Marcelo Fornet Oct 7 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MarceloFornet: true! I approved your edit. $\endgroup$ – Kaban-5 Oct 7 at 15:29

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