Suppose we have an approximation algorithm to some maximization problem, that returns a solution with value $(1-\epsilon)*OPT$.

  • If the runtime of the algorithm is polynomial in the input size and $1/\epsilon$, then it is called an FPTAS.
  • If the runtime is polynomial in the input size and $\log(1/\epsilon)$, then the algorithm is called polynomial, since $\log(1/\epsilon)$ is the size of the binary representation of $\epsilon$.

My question: are there any algorithms that are "in between" these cases? That is: is there an approximation algorithm with runtime complexity $f(1/\epsilon)$, where $f(x)$ is asymptotically larger than any polynomial of $\log(x)$, but smaller than $x^r$ for any $r>0$?

EDIT: an example of such a function (mentioned in the comments by Discrete Lizard) is $f(x) := 2^{\sqrt{\log{x}}}$. Is there an approximation algorithm with runtime complexity $2^{\sqrt{\log{(1/ \epsilon)}}}$?

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    $\begingroup$ I think one such function would be e.g. $2^{\sqrt{\log n}}$. This page on quasi-polynomial functions seems related. ( Of course, $2^{O((\log n)^c)}$ is super-polynomial for c>1, but sub-polynomial for 0<c<1. ) $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard
    Jan 31 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard thanks! Do you know if there are any approximation algorithms with run-time in $O(2^{\sqrt{\log(1/\epsilon)}})$? These algorithms would be better than FPTAS but worse than P. $\endgroup$ Mar 7 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know. I do not even know of an algorithm with this factor in the running time for any parameter. I've only seen quasi-polynomial functions of the super-polynomial type in a running time. $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard
    Mar 7 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


$\sqrt(n)$. The smallest function polynomial in n is $c \cdot n$ for some $c > 0$.

  • $\begingroup$ When I wrote "polynomial" I should have written "$n^r$ for some $r>0$" - clarified the question $\endgroup$ Mar 8 at 10:49

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