Linear programming and reductions


Many of the problems for which we want algorithms are optimization tasks: the shortest path, the cheapest spanning tree, the longest increasing subsequence, and so on. In such cases, we seek a solution that (1) satisfies certain constraints (for instance, the path must use edges of the graph and lead from s to t, the tree must touch all nodes, the subsequence must be increasing); and (2) is the best possible, with respect to some well-defined criterion, among all solutions that satisfy these constraints.

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