Many NP-hard graph problems can be solved in polynomial time for graphs with bounded treewidth. Equivalent results are known for pathwidth and branchwidth. In recent years, several studies have shown that this result is not only of theoretical interest but can successfully be applied to find (almost) optimal solutions or lower bounds for many optimization problems.
To apply a tree decomposition approach, the treewidth of the graph has to be determined, independently of the application at hand. Although for fixed k, linear time algorithms exist to solve the decision problem treewidth <= k, their practical use is very limited. The computational tractability of treewidth has been rarely studied so far. In this paper, we compare four heuristics and two lower bounds for instances from applications such as the frequency assignment problem and the vertex coloring problem.
Three of the heuristics are based on well-known algorithms to recognize triangulated graphs. The fourth heuristic recursively improves a tree decomposition by the computation of minimal separating vertex sets in subgraphs. Lower bounds can be computed from maximal cliques and the minimum degree of induced subgraphs. A computational analysis shows that the treewidth of several graphs can be identified by these methods. For other graphs, however, more sophisticated techniques are necessary.
ZIB-Report 01-38, Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum für Informationstechnik Berlin (ZIB), December 2001