Dr. Samuel Fiorini,
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Département de Mathématique

An Efficient Algorithm for Partial Order Production

We consider the problem of partial order production: arrange the elements of an unknown totally ordered T into a target partially ordered set S, by comparing a minimum number of pairs in T. Special cases of this problem include sorting by comparisons, selection, multiple selection, and heap construction.

We give an algorithm performing ITLB + o(ITLB) + O(n) comparisons in the worst case. Here, n denotes the size of the ground sets, and ITLB denotes a natural information-theoretic lower bound on the number of comparisons needed to produce the target poset. The overall complexity of our algorithm is polynomial. This answers a question of Yao (SICOMP, 1989).

Our strategy is to extend the poset S to a weak order W whose corresponding information-theoretic lower bound is provably not much larger than that for S. Taking W instead of S as a target poset, we then solve the problem by applying a multiple selection algorithm that performs not much more than ITLB comparisons.

We base our analysis on the entropy of the target poset S, a quantity that can be efficiently computed and provides a good estimate of ITLB since the latter is, up to a linear error term, n times the entropy of S.

This is joint work with Jean Cardinal (ULB), Gwenaël Joret (ULB), Raphaël M. Jungers (UCL), Ian Munro (Waterloo)