Tag Archives: Generalized Geography

Generalized Geography

It’s spring break here- I was expecting to take the week off, but got this post done anyway.  This might mean I skip next week though.

The problem: Generalized Geography.  This is problem GP2 in the appendix.

The description: Given a directed graph G=(V,A) and a starting vertex vo.  Players alternate choosing edges that leave the current vertex (starting with v0.  The next current vertex is the one at the end of the edge leaving from vo.  You can’t choose an edge that is already chosen.  The first player to be unable to choose an edge loses.  Does Player 1 have a forced win?

Example: This is the “geography” game kids play in the car, where you have to think of a place that has as its first letter the last letter of the previous choice.  As a graph problem, vertices correspond to letters, and edges to locations:

Note that the vertices can have self-loops, and (at least in the actual game) could have multiple edges between pairs of vertices.  There is no requirement to have any edges leave a vertex either- I remember instituting the “Phoenix rule”  on car trips because nobody could think of a place that started with X.

Anyway, if we start at E, player 1 has a forced win- they have to take “Egypt” to T, and then player 2 has to take “Texas” to S, and if player 1 chooses “Singapore” we’re in vertex E, it’s player 2’s turn, and they have no place left to pick.  (The actual game has many more edges, of course)

Reduction:  Schaefer says he’s building off of the Sequential Truth Assignment problem from last time, but his instance looks more like an instance of QBF. (I think this is a result of his claim that they’re basically the same problem).  So we’re given a formula: (∃ x1) (∀ x2) (∃ x3) … (∃ xn) (A1 ∧ A2 ∧ … Am), where each Ai is a disjunction of literals.  We’ll further assume n is odd (so the last quantifier is ∃)

We then go on to build a graph.  Each positive and negative literal gets a vertex.  Each variable x1 gets 4 vertices in the graph:

  • xi corresponding to a positive literal
  • ~xi corresponding to a negative literal
  • 2 vertices u and v that control the “entrance” and “exit” for the setting of one of the 2 literal values.

We have a vertex for each clause (yi), and an additional vertex un+1 so the last vi has someplace to go.

Each set of these 4 vertices are set up in a diamond, with edges from ui to both xi and ~xi, and then from both of those to vi. vi then connects to ui+1, making a chain of diamonds. The final un+1 connects to each y vertex, and each y vertex connects to the literals that are in its clause.

Here’s the example picture from the paper:

Player 1 starts on vertex u1. The player chooses whether to make variable x1 positive or negative by going to that vertex (simulating a “there exists”), and player 2 has no choice but to move on to the v1 vertex, and player 1 has no choice to move to the next u2 (simulating a “for all”). This alternating process continues until we hit vertex un+1.  Since there are an odd number of variables, it is now player 2’s turn.

If the setting of the variables has not satisfied some clause, player 2 can move to the y vertex of that unsatisfied clause.  Then player 1 has to go to one of the 3 literals that appear in that clause.  Since the clause was not satisfied, all of these variables have not been chosen, so the edge from that literal to the v vertex is available for player 2 to pick.  But after that, the vertex from the v vertex to the next u vertex has already been chosen, so player 1 loses.

If the setting of the variables has satisfied every clause, then player 2 has to pick a move to a y vertex that has a literal chosen by a player to satisfy it. When player 1 moves to that vertex, the only edge exiting that vertex has already been chosen, so player 2 loses.

Difficulty: 7. I think this is very slick and elegant, but I don’t see a student getting there without lots of help.