Abstract:
Motivated by a problem in the theory of randomized search heuristics, we give a very precise analysis for the coupon collector problem where the collector starts with a random set of coupons (chosen uniformly from all sets). We show that the expected number of rounds until we have a coupon of each type is $nH_{n/2} - 1/2 \pm o(1)$, where $H_{n/2}$ denotes the $(n/2)$th harmonic number when $n$ is even, and $H_{n/2}:= (1/2) H_{\lfloor n/2 \rfloor} + (1/2) H_{\lceil n/2 \rceil}$ when $n$ is odd. Consequently, the coupon collector with random initial stake is by half a round faster than the one starting with exactly $n/2$ coupons (apart from additive $o(1)$ terms). This result implies that classic simple heuristic called \emph{randomized local search} needs an expected number of $nH_{n/2} - 1/2 \pm o(1)$ iterations to find the optimum of any monotonic function defined on bit-strings of length $n$.

Abstract:
While evolutionary algorithms are known to be very successful for a broad range of applications, the algorithm designer is often left with many algorithmic choices, for example, the size of the population, the mutation rates, and the crossover rates of the algorithm. These parameters are known to have a crucial influence on the optimization time, and thus need to be chosen carefully, a task that often requires substantial efforts. Moreover, the optimal parameters can change during the optimization process. It is therefore of great interest to design mechanisms that dynamically choose best-possible parameters. An example for such an update mechanism is the one-fifth success rule for step-size adaption in evolutionary strategies. While in continuous domains this principle is well understood also from a mathematical point of view, no comparable theory is available for problems in discrete domains. In this work we show that the one-fifth success rule can be effective also in discrete settings. We regard the $(1+(\lambda,\lambda))$~GA proposed in [Doerr/Doerr/Ebel: From black-box complexity to designing new genetic algorithms, TCS 2015]. We prove that if its population size is chosen according to the one-fifth success rule then the expected optimization time on \textsc{OneMax} is linear. This is better than what \emph{any} static population size $\lambda$ can achieve and is asymptotically optimal also among all adaptive parameter choices.

Abstract:
Understanding how crossover works is still one of the big challenges in evolutionary computation research, and making our understanding precise and proven by mathematical means might be an even bigger one. As one of few examples where crossover provably is useful, the $(1+(\lambda, \lambda))$ Genetic Algorithm (GA) was proposed recently in [Doerr, Doerr, Ebel: TCS 2015]. Using the fitness level method, the expected optimization time on general OneMax functions was analyzed and a $O(\max\{n\log(n)/\lambda, \lambda n\})$ bound was proven for any offspring population size $\lambda \in [1..n]$. We improve this work in several ways, leading to sharper bounds and a better understanding of how the use of crossover speeds up the runtime in this algorithm. We first improve the upper bound on the runtime to $O(\max\{n\log(n)/\lambda, n\lambda \log\log(\lambda)/\log(\lambda)\})$. This improvement is made possible from observing that in the parallel generation of $\lambda$ offspring via crossover (but not mutation), the best of these often is better than the expected value, and hence several fitness levels can be gained in one iteration. We then present the first lower bound for this problem. It matches our upper bound for all values of $\lambda$. This allows to determine the asymptotically optimal value for the population size. It is $\lambda = \Theta(\sqrt{\log(n)\log\log(n)/\log\log\log(n)})$, which gives an optimization time of $\Theta(n \sqrt{\log(n)\log\log\log(n)/\log\log(n)})$. Hence the improved runtime analysis gives a better runtime guarantee along with a better suggestion for the parameter $\lambda$. We finally give a tail bound for the upper tail of the runtime distribution, which shows that the actual runtime exceeds our runtime guarantee by a factor of $(1+\delta)$ with probability $O((n/\lambda^2)^{-\delta})$ only.

Abstract:
In this note, we give an explicit polynomial-time executable strategy for Peter Winkler's hat guessing game that gives superior results if the distribution of hats is imbalanced. While Winkler's strategy guarantees in any case that $\lfloor n/2 \rfloor$ of the $n$ player guess their hat color correct, our strategy ensures that the players produce $\max\{r,b\} - 1.2 n^{2/3} -2$ correct guesses for any distribution of $r$ red and $b = n - r$ blue hats. We also show that any strategy ensuring $\max\{r,b\} - f(n)$ correct guesses necessarily has $f(n) = \Omega(\sqrt n)$.

Abstract:
We show that there is a constant $K > 0$ such that for all $N, s \in \N$, $s \le N$, the point set consisting of $N$ points chosen uniformly at random in the $s$-dimensional unit cube $[0,1]^s$ with probability at least $1-\exp(-\Theta(s))$ admits an axis parallel rectangle $[0,x] \subseteq [0,1]^s$ containing $K \sqrt{sN}$ points more than expected. Consequently, the expected star discrepancy of a random point set is of order $\sqrt{s/N}$.

Abstract:
We give a simple deterministic $O(\log K / \log\log K)$ approximation algorithm for the Min-Max Selecting Items problem, where $K$ is the number of scenarios. While our main goal is simplicity, this result also improves over the previous best approximation ratio of $O(\log K)$ due to Kasperski, Kurpisz, and Zieli\'nski (Information Processing Letters (2013)). Despite using the method of pessimistic estimators, the algorithm has a polynomial runtime also in the RAM model of computation. We also show that the LP formulation for this problem by Kasperski and Zieli\'nski (Annals of Operations Research (2009)), which is the basis for the previous work and ours, has an integrality gap of at least $\Omega(\log K / \log\log K)$.

Abstract:
Jim Propp's rotor router model is a deterministic analogue of a random walk on a graph. Instead of distributing chips randomly, each vertex serves its neighbors in a fixed order. We analyze the difference between Propp machine and random walk on the infinite two-dimensional grid. It is known that, apart from a technicality, independent of the starting configuration, at each time, the number of chips on each vertex in the Propp model deviates from the expected number of chips in the random walk model by at most a constant. We show that this constant is approximately 7.8, if all vertices serve their neighbors in clockwise or counterclockwise order and 7.3 otherwise. This result in particular shows that the order in which the neighbors are served makes a difference. Our analysis also reveals a number of further unexpected properties of the two-dimensional Propp machine.

Abstract:
We give a time-randomness tradeoff for the quasi-random rumor spreading protocol proposed by Doerr, Friedrich and Sauerwald [SODA 2008] on complete graphs. In this protocol, the goal is to spread a piece of information originating from one vertex throughout the network. Each vertex is assumed to have a (cyclic) list of its neighbors. Once a vertex is informed by one of its neighbors, it chooses a position in its list uniformly at random and then informs its neighbors starting from that position and proceeding in order of the list. Angelopoulos, Doerr, Huber and Panagiotou [Electron.~J.~Combin.~2009] showed that after $(1+o(1))(\log_2 n + \ln n)$ rounds, the rumor will have been broadcasted to all nodes with probability $1 - o(1)$. We study the broadcast time when the amount of randomness available at each node is reduced in natural way. In particular, we prove that if each node can only make its initial random selection from every $\ell$-th node on its list, then there exists lists such that $(1-\varepsilon) (\log_2 n + \ln n - \log_2 \ell - \ln \ell)+\ell-1$ steps are needed to inform every vertex with probability at least $1-O\bigl(\exp\bigl(-\frac{n^\varepsilon}{2\ln n}\bigr)\bigr)$. This shows that a further reduction of the amount of randomness used in a simple quasi-random protocol comes at a loss of efficiency.

Abstract:
We bound the hereditary discrepancy of a hypergraph $\HH$ in two colors in terms of its hereditary discrepancy in $c$ colors. We show that $\herdisc(\HH,2) \le K c \herdisc(\HH,c)$, where $K$ is some absolute constant. This bound is sharp.

Abstract:
We analyze the classic board game of Mastermind with $n$ holes and a constant number of colors. A result of Chv\'atal (Combinatorica 3 (1983), 325-329) states that the codebreaker can find the secret code with $\Theta(n / \log n)$ questions. We show that this bound remains valid if the codebreaker may only store a constant number of guesses and answers. In addition to an intrinsic interest in this question, our result also disproves a conjecture of Droste, Jansen, and Wegener (Theory of Computing Systems 39 (2006), 525-544) on the memory-restricted black-box complexity of the OneMax function class.