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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Complexity of the stable marriage and stable roommate problems in three dimensions

  • Author(s): Ng, Cheng;
  • Hirschberg, Daniel S.
  • et al.

The stable marriage problem is a matching problem that pairs members of two sets. The objective is to achieve a matching that satisfies all participants based on their preferences. The stable roommate problem is a variant involving only one set, which is partitioned into pairs with a similar objective. There exist asymptotically optimal algorithms that solve both problems.

In this paper, we investigate the complexity of three dimensional extensions of these problems. This is one of twelve research directions suggested by Knuth in his book on the stable marriage problem. We show that these problems are NP-complete, and hence it is unlikely that there exist efficient algorithms for their solutions.

Applying the polynomial tranformation developed in this paper, we extend the NP-completeness result to include the problem of matching couples - who are both medical school graduates - to pairs of hospital resident positions. This problem is important in practice and is dealth with annually by NRMP, the centralized program that matches all medical school graduates in the United States to available resident positions.

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