# Minimum bounded chains and minimum homologous chains in embedded simplicial complexes

We study two optimization problems on simplicial complexes with homology over ℤ_2, the minimum bounded chain problem: given a d-dimensional complex 𝒦 embedded in ℝ^d+1 and a null-homologous (d-1)-cycle C in 𝒦, find the minimum d-chain with boundary C, and the minimum homologous chain problem: given a (d+1)-manifold ℳ and a d-chain D in ℳ, find the minimum d-chain homologous to D. We show strong hardness results for both problems even for small values of d; d = 2 for the former problem, and d=1 for the latter problem. We show that both problems are APX-hard, and hard to approximate within any constant factor assuming the unique games conjecture. On the positive side, we show that both problems are fixed parameter tractable with respect to the size of the optimal solution. Moreover, we provide an O(√(logβ_d))-approximation algorithm for the minimum bounded chain problem where β_d is the dth Betti number of 𝒦. Finally, we provide an O(√(log n_d+1))-approximation algorithm for the minimum homologous chain problem where n_d+1 is the number of d-simplices in ℳ.

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