Tractable Classes of Binary CSPs Defined by Excluded Topological Minors / 1945
David A. Cohen, Martin C. Cooper, Peter G Jeavons, Stanislav Zivny
The binary Constraint Satisfaction Problem (CSP) is to decide whether there exists an assignment to a set of variables which satisfies specified constraints between pairs of variables. A CSP instance can be presented as a labelled graph (called the microstructure) encoding both the forms of the constraints and where they are imposed. We consider subproblems defined by restricting the allowed form of the microstructure. One form of restriction that has previously been considered is to forbid certain specified substructures (patterns). This captures some tractable classes of the CSP, but does not capture the well-known property of acyclicity. In this paper we introduce the notion of a topological minor of a binary CSP instance. By forbidding certain patterns as topological minors we obtain a compact mechanism for expressing several novel tractable classes, including new generalisations of the class of acyclic instances.