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Given points in the plane, connect them using minimum ink. Though the task seems simple, it turns out to be very time consuming. In fact, scientists believe that computers cannot efficiently solve it. So, do we have to resign? This book examines such NP-hard network-design problems, from connectivity problems in graphs to polygonal drawing problems on the plane. First, we observe why it is so hard to optimally solve these problems. Then, we go over to attack them anyway. We develop fast algorithms that find approximate solutions that are very close to the optimal ones. Hence, connecting points with slightly more ink is not hard.

Practical optimization problems often comprise several incomparable and conflicting objectives. When booking a trip using several means of transport, for instance, it should be fast and at the same time not too expensive. The first part of this thesis is concerned with the algorithmic solvability of such multiobjective optimization problems. Several solution notions are discussed and compared with respect to their difficulty. Interestingly, these solution notions are always equally difficulty for a single-objective problem and they differ considerably already for two objectives (unless P = NP). In this context, the difference between search and decision problems is also investigated in general. Furthermore, new and improved approximation algorithms for several variants of the traveling salesperson problem are presented. Using tools from discrepancy theory, a general technique is developed that helps to avoid an obstacle that is often hindering in multiobjective approximation: The problem of combining two solutions such that the new solution is balanced in all objectives and also mostly retains the structure of the original solutions. The second part of this thesis is dedicated to several aspects of systems of equations for (formal) languages. Firstly, conjunctive and Boolean grammars are studied, which are extensions of context-free grammars by explicit intersection and complementation operations, respectively. Among other results, it is shown that one can considerably restrict the union operation on conjunctive grammars without changing the generated language. Secondly, certain circuits are investigated whose gates do not compute Boolean values but sets of natural numbers. For these circuits, the equivalence problem is studied, i.\,e.\ the problem of deciding whether two given circuits compute the same set or not. It is shown that, depending on the allowed types of gates, this problem is complete for several different complexity classes and can thus be seen as a parametrized) representative for all those classes.

We consider competitive location problems where two competing providers place their facilities sequentially and users can decide between the competitors. We assume that both competitors act non-cooperatively and aim at maximizing their own benefits. We investigate the complexity and approximability of such problems on graphs, in particular on simple graph classes such as trees and paths. We also develop fast algorithms for single competitive location problems where each provider places a single facilty. Voting location, in contrast, aims at identifying locations that meet social criteria. The provider wants to satisfy the users (customers) of the facility to be opened. In general, there is no location that is favored by all users. Therefore, a satisfactory compromise has to be found. To this end, criteria arising from voting theory are considered. The solution of the location problem is understood as the winner of a virtual election among the users of the facilities, in which the potential locations play the role of the candidates and the users represent the voters. Competitive and voting location problems turn out to be closely related.