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# Combinatorial Approximations for Cluster Deletion: Simpler, Faster, and Better

*Proceedings of the 41st International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 235:2586-2606, 2024.

#### Abstract

Cluster deletion is an NP-hard graph clustering objective with applications in computational biology and social network analysis, where the goal is to delete a minimum number of edges to partition a graph into cliques. We first provide a tighter analysis of two previous approximation algorithms, improving their approximation guarantees from 4 to 3. Moreover, we show that both algorithms can be derandomized in a surprisingly simple way, by greedily taking a vertex of maximum degree in an auxiliary graph and forming a cluster around it. One of these algorithms relies on solving a linear program. Our final contribution is to design a new and purely combinatorial approach for doing so that is far more scalable in theory and practice.