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Gathering in dynamic rings (01a Articolo in rivista)

Di Luna G, Flocchini P, Pagli L, Prencipe G, Santoro N, Viglietta G

The gathering (or multi-agent rendezvous) problem requires a set of mobile agents, arbitrarily positioned at different nodes of a network to group within finite time at the same location, not fixed in advanced. The extensive existing literature on this problem shares the same fundamental assumption: the topological structure does not change during the rendezvous or the gathering; this is true also for those investigations that consider faulty nodes. In other words, they only consider static graphs. In this paper we start the investigation of gathering in dynamic graphs, that is networks where the topology changes continuously and at unpredictable locations. We study the feasibility of gathering mobile agents, identical and without explicit communication capabilities, in a dynamic ring of anonymous nodes; the class of dynamics we consider is the classic 1-interval-connectivity; i.e., dynamic graphs that are however connected at any point in time. We focus on the impact that factors such as chirality (i.e., a common sense of orientation) and cross detection (i.e., the ability to detect, when traversing an edge, whether some agent is traversing it in the other direction), have on the solvability of the problem; and we establish several results. We provide a complete characterization of the classes of initial configurations from which the gathering problem is solvable in presence and in absence of cross detection and of chirality. The feasibility results of the characterization are all constructive: we provide distributed algorithms that allow the agents to gather within low polynomial time. In particular, the algorithms for gathering with cross detection are time optimal. We also show that cross detection is a powerful computational element. Indeed, we prove that, without chirality, knowledge of the ring size n is strictly more powerful than knowledge of the number k of agents; on the other hand, with chirality, knowledge of n can be substituted by knowledge of k, yielding the same classes of feasible initial configurations. From our investigation it follows that, for the gathering problem, the computational obstacles created by the dynamic nature of the ring can be overcome by the presence of chirality or of cross-detection.
Gruppo di ricerca: Distributed Systems
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