Cliques and their generalizations are frequently used to model ``tightly knit'' clusters in graphs and identifying such clusters is a popular technique used in graph-based data mining. One such model is the $s$-club, which is a vertex subset that induces a subgraph of diameter at most $s$. This model has found use in a variety of fields because low-diameter clusters have practical significance in many applications. As this property is not hereditary on vertex-induced subgraphs, the diameter of a subgraph could increase upon the removal of some vertices and the subgraph could even become disconnected. For example, star graphs have diameter two but can be disconnected by removing the central vertex.
The pursuit of a fault-tolerant extension of the $s$-club model has spawned two variants that we study in this article: robust $s$-clubs and hereditary $s$-clubs. We analyze the complexity of the verification and optimization problems associated with these variants. Then, we propose cut-like integer programming formulations for both variants whenever possible and investigate the separation complexity of the cut-like constraints. We demonstrate through our extensive computational experiments that the algorithmic ideas we introduce enable us to solve the problems to optimality on benchmark instances with several thousand vertices. This work lays the foundations for effective mathematical programming approaches for finding fault-tolerant $s$-clubs in large-scale networks.
Preprint to appear in INFORMS Journal on Computation.