Sorting under Partial Information and Partial Order Entropy

19 October 2010
<p>We revisit the problem of sorting under partial information: sort a finite set given the outcomes of comparisons between some pairs of elements. The input is a partially ordered set P, and solving the problem amounts to discovering an unknown linear extension of P, using pairwise comparisons. The information-theoretic lower bound on the number of comparisons needed in the worst case is log e(P), the binary logarithm of the number of linear extensions of P. In a breakthrough paper, Jeff Kahn and Jeong Han Kim (STOC 1992) showed that there exists a polynomial-time sorting algorithm achieving this bound up to a constant factor. They established a crucial link between the entropy of the input partial order and the information-theoretic lower bound. However, their algorithm invokes the ellipsoid algorithm at each iteration for determining the next comparison, making it unpractical. We develop efficient algorithms for sorting under partial information, derived from approximation and exact algorithms for computing the partial order entropy.<span class="content hover_target"><span class="commentable_icon_position_reference"> <p>This is joint work with S. Fiorini, G. Joret, R. Jungers, and I. Munro.</p></span></span></p>
  • Combinatorial Theory Seminar