Sorting using complete subintervals and the maximum number of runs in a randomly evolving sequence

Research paper by Svante Janson

Indexed on: 10 Jan '07Published on: 10 Jan '07Published in: Mathematics - Probability


We study the space requirements of a sorting algorithm where only items that at the end will be adjacent are kept together. This is equivalent to the following combinatorial problem: Consider a string of fixed length n that starts as a string of 0's, and then evolves by changing each 0 to 1, with then changes done in random order. What is the maximal number of runs of 1's? We give asymptotic results for the distribution and mean. It turns out that, as in many problems involving a maximum, the maximum is asymptotically normal, with fluctuations of order n^{1/2}, and to the first order well approximated by the number of runs at the instance when the expectation is maximized, in this case when half the elements have changed to 1; there is also a second order term of order n^{1/3}. We also treat some variations, including priority queues. The proofs use methods originally developed for random graphs.