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A new study by Ildikó Schlotter and co-authors published in Algorithmica

Published: 26 March 2021

Obtaining a Proportional Allocation by Deleting Items

Britta Dorn – Ronald de Haan – Ildikó Schlotter


We consider the following control problem on fair allocation of indivisible goods. Given a set I of items and a set of agents, each having strict linear preferences over the items, we ask for a minimum subset of the items whose deletion guarantees the existence of a proportional allocation in the remaining instance; we call this problem Proportionality by Item Deletion (PID). Our main result is a polynomial-time algorithm that solves PID for three agents. By contrast, we prove that PID is computationally intractable when the number of agents is unbounded, even if the number k of item deletions allowed is small—we show that the problem is W[3] -hard with respect to the parameter k. Additionally, we provide some tight lower and upper bounds on the complexity of PID when regarded as a function of |I| and k. Considering the possibilities for approximation, we prove a strong inapproximability result for PID. Finally, we also study a variant of the problem where we are given an allocation π in advance as part of the input.


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