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The Stochastic Matching Problem: Beating Half with a Non-Adaptive Algorithm


In the stochastic matching problem, we are given a general (not necessarily bipartite) graph $G(V,E)$, where each edge in $E$ is realized with some constant probability $p > 0$ and the goal is to compute a bounded-degree (bounded by a function depending only on $p$) subgraph $H$ of $G$ such that the expected maximum matching size in $H$ is close to the expected maximum matching size in $G$. The algorithms in this setting are considered non-adaptive as they have to choose the subgraph $H$ without knowing any information about the set of realized edges in $G$. Originally motivated by an application to kidney exchange, the stochastic matching problem and its variants have received significant attention in recent years. The state-of-the-art non-adaptive algorithms for stochastic matching achieve an approximation ratio of $\frac{1}{2}-\epsilon$ for any $\epsilon > 0$, naturally raising the question that if $1/2$ is the limit of what can be achieved with a non-adaptive algorithm. In this work, we resolve this question by presenting the first algorithm for stochastic matching with an approximation guarantee that is strictly better than $1/2$: the algorithm computes a subgraph $H$ of $G$ with the maximum degree $O(\frac{\log{(1/ p)}}{p})$ such that the ratio of expected size of a maximum matching in realizations of $H$ and $G$ is at least $1/2+\delta_0$ for some absolute constant $\delta_0 > 0$. The degree bound on $H$ achieved by our algorithm is essentially the best possible (up to an $O(\log{(1/p)})$ factor) for any constant factor approximation algorithm, since an $\Omega(\frac{1}{p})$ degree in $H$ is necessary for a vertex to acquire at least one incident edge in a realization.