An Optimal Algorithm for Strict Circular Seriation

Santiago Armstrong, Cristóbal Guzmán, Carlos A. Sing-Long

We study the problem of circular seriation, where we are given a matrix of pairwise dissimilarities between $n$ objects, and the goal is to find a {\em circular order} of the objects in a manner that is consistent with their dissimilarity. This problem is a generalization of the classical {\em linear seriation} problem where the goal is to find a {\em linear order}, and for which optimal ${\cal O}(n^2)$ algorithms are known. Our contributions can be summarized as follows. First, we introduce {\em circular Robinson matrices} as the natural class of dissimilarity matrices for the circular seriation problem. Second, for the case of {\em strict circular Robinson dissimilarity matrices} we provide an optimal ${\cal O}(n^2)$ algorithm for the circular seriation problem. Finally, we propose a statistical model to analyze the well-posedness of the circular seriation problem for large $n$. In particular, we establish ${\cal O}(\log(n)/n)$ rates on the distance between any circular ordering found by solving the circular seriation problem to the underlying order of the model, in the Kendall-tau metric.

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