On the number of pancake stacks requiring four flips to be sorted

Saúl A. Blanco, Charles Buehrle, Akshay Patidar

Using existing classification results for the 7- and 8-cycles in the pancake graph, we determine the number of permutations that require 4 pancake flips (prefix reversals) to be sorted. A similar characterization of the 8-cycles in the burnt pancake graph, due to the authors, is used to derive a formula for the number of signed permutations requiring 4 (burnt) pancake flips to be sorted. We furthermore provide an analogous characterization of the 9-cycles in the burnt pancake graph. Finally we present numerical evidence that polynomial formulae exist giving the number of signed permutations that require $k$ flips to be sorted, with $5\leq k\leq9$.

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