Open Access

Computational aspects of the Helly property: a survey

  • Mitre C. Dourado1,
  • Fábio Protti2 and
  • Jayme L. Szwarcfiter3
Journal of the Brazilian Computer Society12:BF03192385

DOI: 10.1007/BF03192385


In 1923, Eduard Helly published his celebrated theorem, which originated the well known Helly property. Say that a family of subsets has the Helly property when every subfamily of it, formed by pairwise intersecting subsets, contains a common element. There are many generalizations of this property which are relevant to some parts of mathematics and several applications in computer science. In this work, we survey computational aspects of the Helly property. The main focus is algorithmic. That is, we describe algorithms for solving different problems arising from the basic Helly property. We also discuss the complexity of these problems, some of them leading to NP-hardness results.


Computational Complexity Helly property NP-complete problems