set cover

(classic problem)

Definition: A set of sets whose union has all members of the union of all sets. The set cover problem is to find a minimum size set.

Formal Definition: Given a set S of sets, choose c ⊆ S such that Ui=1 ci = Ui=1 Si.

See also covering.

Author: PEB


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Entry modified 17 December 2004.
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Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "set cover", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Paul E. Black, ed., U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. 17 December 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from:

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