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The Landscape of Bounds for Binary Search Trees


Chalermsook,  Parinya
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

Goswami,  Mayank
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

Mehlhorn,  Kurt
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

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Chalermsook, P., Goswami, M., Kozma, L., Mehlhorn, K., & Saranurak, T. (2016). The Landscape of Bounds for Binary Search Trees. Retrieved from

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Binary search trees (BSTs) with rotations can adapt to various kinds of structure in search sequences, achieving amortized access times substantially better than the Theta(log n) worst-case guarantee. Classical examples of structural properties include static optimality, sequential access, working set, key-independent optimality, and dynamic finger, all of which are now known to be achieved by the two famous online BST algorithms (Splay and Greedy). (...) In this paper, we introduce novel properties that explain the efficiency of sequences not captured by any of the previously known properties, and which provide new barriers to the dynamic optimality conjecture. We also establish connections between various properties, old and new. For instance, we show the following. (i) A tight bound of O(n log d) on the cost of Greedy for d-decomposable sequences. The result builds on the recent lazy finger result of Iacono and Langerman (SODA 2016). On the other hand, we show that lazy finger alone cannot explain the efficiency of pattern avoiding sequences even in some of the simplest cases. (ii) A hierarchy of bounds using multiple lazy fingers, addressing a recent question of Iacono and Langerman. (iii) The optimality of the Move-to-root heuristic in the key-independent setting introduced by Iacono (Algorithmica 2005). (iv) A new tool that allows combining any finite number of sound structural properties. As an application, we show an upper bound on the cost of a class of sequences that all known properties fail to capture. (v) The equivalence between two families of BST properties. The observation on which this connection is based was known before - we make it explicit, and apply it to classical BST properties. (...)