CS 269S, Spring 2014: Theory Seminar
ICS Building, Room 243, 1pm
May 16, 2013:

Zig-zag Sort: A simple deterministic data-oblivious sorting algorithm running in $O(n\log n)$ time

Michael T. Goodrich

We describe and analyze Zig-zag Sort--a deterministic data-oblivious sorting algorithm running in $O(n\log n)$ time that is arguably simpler than previously known algorithms with similar properties, which are based on the AKS sorting network. Because it is data-oblivious and deterministic, Zig-zag Sort can be implemented as a simple $O(n\log n)$-size sorting network, thereby providing a solution to an open problem posed by Incerpi and Sedgewick in 1985. In addition, Zig-zag Sort is a variant of Shellsort, and is, in fact, the first deterministic Shellsort variant running in $O(n\log n)$ time. The existence of such an algorithm was posed as an open problem by Plaxton et al. in 1992 and also by Sedgewick in 1996. More relevant for today, however, is the fact that the existence of a simple data-oblivious deterministic sorting algorithm running in $O(n\log n)$ time simplifies the inner-loop computation in several proposed oblivious-RAM simulation methods (which utilize AKS sorting networks), and this, in turn, implies simplified mechanisms for privacy-preserving data outsourcing in several cloud computing applications. We provide both constructive and non-constructive implementations of Zig-zag Sort, based on the existence of a circuit known as an epsilon-halver, such that the constant factors in our constructive implementations are orders of magnitude smaller than those for constructive variants of the AKS sorting network, which are also based on the use of epsilon-halvers.

(Practice talk for a paper to be presented at STOC 2014.)