# Fixed-parameter tractability of Directed Multicut with three terminal pairs parameterized by the size of the cutset: twin-width meets flow-augmentation

We show fixed-parameter tractability of the Directed Multicut problem with three terminal pairs (with a randomized algorithm). This problem, given a directed graph G, pairs of vertices (called terminals) (s_1,t_1), (s_2,t_2), and (s_3,t_3), and an integer k, asks to find a set of at most k non-terminal vertices in G that intersect all s_1t_1-paths, all s_2t_2-paths, and all s_3t_3-paths. The parameterized complexity of this case has been open since Chitnis, Cygan, Hajiaghayi, and Marx proved fixed-parameter tractability of the 2-terminal-pairs case at SODA 2012, and Pilipczuk and Wahlström proved the W[1]-hardness of the 4-terminal-pairs case at SODA 2016. On the technical side, we use two recent developments in parameterized algorithms. Using the technique of directed flow-augmentation [Kim, Kratsch, Pilipczuk, Wahlström, STOC 2022] we cast the problem as a CSP problem with few variables and constraints over a large ordered domain.We observe that this problem can be in turn encoded as an FO model-checking task over a structure consisting of a few 0-1 matrices. We look at this problem through the lenses of twin-width, a recently introduced structural parameter [Bonnet, Kim, Thomassé, Watrigant, FOCS 2020]: By a recent characterization [Bonnet, Giocanti, Ossona de Mendes, Simon, Thomassé, Toruńczyk, STOC 2022] the said FO model-checking task can be done in FPT time if the said matrices have bounded grid rank. To complete the proof, we show an irrelevant vertex rule: If any of the matrices in the said encoding has a large grid minor, a vertex corresponding to the “middle” box in the grid minor can be proclaimed irrelevant – not contained in the sought solution – and thus reduced.

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