Let C be a bounded convex object in ℝd, and let P be a set of n points lying outside C. Further, let cp, cq be two integers with 1 ⩽ cq ⩽ cp ⩽ n - ⌊d/2⌋, such that every cp + ⌊d/2⌋ points of P contain a subset of size cq + ⌊d/2⌋ whose convex hull is disjoint from C. Then our main theorem states the existence of a partition of P into a small number of subsets, each of whose convex hulls are disjoint from C. Our proof is constructive and implies that such a partition can be computed in polynomial time.
In particular, our general theorem implies polynomial bounds for Hadwiger--Debrunner (p, q) numbers for balls in ℝd. For example, it follows from our theorem that when p > q = (1+β)⋅d/2 for β > 0, then any set of balls satisfying the (p, q)-property can be hit by O((1+β)2d2p1+1/β logp) points. This is the first improvement over a nearly 60 year-old exponential bound of roughly O(2d).
Our results also complement the results obtained in a recent work of Keller, Smorodinsky and Tardos where, apart from improvements to the bound on HD(p, q) for convex sets in ℝd for various ranges of p and q, a polynomial bound is obtained for regions with low union complexity in the plane.