Randomized Competitive Algorithms for the
List Update Problem

N. Reingold, J. Westbrook, D. D. Sleator, Randomized Competitive Algorithms for the
List Update Problem, Algorithmica (1994) 11: 15-32

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We prove upper and lower bounds on the competitiveness of randomized algorithms for the list update problem of Sleator and Tarjan. We give a simple and elegant randomized algorithm that is more competitive than the best previous randomized algorithm due to Irani. Our algorithm uses randomness only during an initialization phase, and from then on runs completely deterministically. It is the first randomized competitive algorithm with this property to beat the deterministic lower bound. We generalize our approach to a model in which access costs are fixed but update costs are scaled by an arbitrary constant d. We prove lower bounds for deterministic list update algorithms and for randomized algorithms against oblivious and adaptive on-line adversaries. In particular, we show that for this problem adaptive on-line and adaptive off-line adversaries are equally powerful.

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