Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 14:00
Tanenbaum, Trenk, and Fishburn introduced the concept of linear discrepancy in 2001, proposing it as a way to measure a partially ordered set's distance from being a linear order. In addition to proving a number of results about linear discrepancy, they posed eight challenges and questions for future work. This dissertation completely resolves one of those challenges and makes contributions on two others. This dissertation has three principal components: 3-discrepancy irreducible posets of width 3, degree bounds, and online algorithms for linear discrepancy. The first principal component of this dissertation provides a forbidden subposet characterization of the posets with linear discrepancy equal to 2 by completing the determination of the posets that are 3-irreducible with respect to linear discrepancy. The second principal component concerns degree bounds for linear discrepancy and weak discrepancy, a parameter similar to linear discrepancy. Specifically, if every point of a poset is incomparable to at most \Delta other points of the poset, we prove three bounds: the linear discrepancy of an interval order is at most \Delta, with equality if and only if it contains an antichain of size \Delta+1; the linear discrepancy of a disconnected poset is at most \lfloor(3\Delta-1)/2\rfloor; and the weak discrepancy of a poset is at most \Delta-1. The third principal component of this dissertation incorporates another large area of research, that of online algorithms. We show that no online algorithm for linear discrepancy can be better than 3-competitive, even for the class of interval orders. We also give a 2-competitive online algorithm for linear discrepancy on semiorders and show that this algorithm is optimal.