Minimum-weight triangulation (MWT) is NP-hard. It has a polynomial-time constant-factor approximation algorithm, and a variety of effective polynomial- time heuristics that, for many instances, can find the exact MWT. Linear programs (LPs) for MWT are well-studied, but previously no connection was known between any LP and any approximation algorithm or heuristic for MWT. Here we show the first such connections: for an LP formulation due to Dantzig et al. (1985): (i) the integrality gap is bounded by a constant; (ii) given any instance, if the aforementioned heuristics find the MWT, then so does the LP. Our analysis improves the best approximation ratio known for MWT (which is an astronomically large constant) by an order of magnitude.
Journal version of [2012