Metric Spaces with Expensive Distances

Michael Kerber, Arnur Nigmetov

Research output: Working paperPreprint


In algorithms for finite metric spaces, it is common to assume that the distance between two points can be computed in constant time, and complexity bounds are expressed only in terms of the number of points of the metric space. We introduce a different model where we assume that the computation of a single distance is an expensive operation and consequently, the goal is to minimize the number of such distance queries. This model is motivated by metric spaces that appear in the context of topological data analysis. We consider two standard operations on metric spaces, namely the construction of a $1+\varepsilon$-spanner and the computation of an approximate nearest neighbor for a given query point. In both cases, we partially explore the metric space through distance queries and infer lower and upper bounds for yet unexplored distances through triangle inequality. For spanners, we evaluate several exploration strategies through extensive experimental evaluation. For approximate nearest neighbors, we prove that our strategy returns an approximate nearest neighbor after a logarithmic number of distance queries.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2019

Publication series e-Print archive
PublisherCornell University Library


  • cs.CG

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