We show that any finite partially ordered setP (not a total order) contains a pair of elementsx andy such that the proportion of linear extensions ofP in whichx lies belowy is between 3/11 and 8/11. A consequence is that the information theoretic lower bound for sorting under partial information is tight up to a multiplicative constant. Precisely: ifX is a totally ordered set about which we are given some partial information, and ife(X) is the number of total orderings ofX compatible with this information, then it is possible to sortX using no more thanC log2e (X) comparisons whereC is approximately 2.17.
AMS (MOS) subject classifications (1980)06A10 68E05
Key wordsSorting comparison information theoretic bound linear extension
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