- Published 2002 in SPAA

Consider a team of mobile software agents deployed to capture a (possibly hostile) intruder in a network. All agents, including the intruder move along the network links; the intruder could be arbitrarily fast, and aware of the positions of all the agents. The problem is to design the agents' strategy for capturing the intruder. The main efficiency parameter is the size of the team. This is an instance of the well known graph-searching problem whose many variants have been extensively studied in the literature. In all existing solutions, and in all the variants of the problem, it is assumed that agents can be removed from their current location and placed in another network site arbitrarily and at any time. As a consequence, the existing optimal strategies cannot be employed in situations for which agents cannot access the network at any point, or cannot "jump" across the network, or cannot reach an arbitrary point of the network via an internal travel through insecure zones. This motivates the contiguous search problem in which agents cannot be removed from the network, and clear links must form a connected sub-network at any time, providing safety of movements. This new problem is NP-complete in general. We study it for tree networks, and we consider its more general version, the weighted case, which arises naturally when considering networks whose nodes and links are of different nature and thus require a different number of agents to be explored. We give a linear-time algorithm that computes, for any tree $T$, the minimum number of agents to capture the intruder, and the corresponding search strategy. Beside its optimality in time, our algorithm is naturally distributed: if $T$ is a processor-network, then the minimal search strategy for $T$ can be computed by $T$ in a decentralized manner, using a linear number of messages.

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@inproceedings{Barrire2002CaptureOA,
title={Capture of an intruder by mobile agents},
author={Lali Barri{\`e}re and Paola Flocchini and Pierre Fraigniaud and Nicola Santoro},
booktitle={SPAA},
year={2002}
}