SIROCCO 2024 · 31st International Colloquium on Structural Information and Communication Complexity, Vietri sul Mare, Italy, May 2024

Balliu et al. (DISC 2020) classified the hardness of solving *binary labeling problems* with distributed graph algorithms; in these problems the task is to select a subset of edges in a $2$-colored tree in which white nodes of degree $d$ and black nodes of degree $\delta$ have constraints on the number of selected incident edges. They showed that the deterministic round complexity of any such problem is $O_{d,\delta}(1)$, $\Theta_{d,\delta}(\log n)$, or $\Theta_{d,\delta}(n)$, or the problem is unsolvable. However, their classification only addresses complexity as a function of $n$; here $O_{d,\delta}$ hides constants that may depend on parameters $d$ and $\delta$.

In this work we study the complexity of binary labeling problems as a function of all three parameters: $n$, $d$, and $\delta$. To this end, we introduce the family of *structurally simple* problems, which includes, among others, all binary labeling problems in which cardinality constraints can be represented with a context-free grammar. We classify possible complexities of structurally simple problems. As our main result, we show that if the complexity of a problem falls in the broad class of $\Theta_{d,\delta}(\log n)$, then the complexity for each $d$ and $\delta$ is always either $\Theta(\log_d n)$, $\Theta(\log_\delta n)$, or $\Theta(\log n)$.

To prove our upper bounds, we introduce a new, more aggressive version of the *rake-and-compress technique* that benefits from high-degree nodes.