Edit Distance with Move Operations

  • Dana Shapira
  • James A. Storer
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2373)


The traditional edit-distance problem is to find the minimum number of insert-character and delete-character (and sometimes change character) operations required to transform one string into another. Here we consider the more general problem of strings being represented by a singly linked list (one character per node) and being able to apply these operations to the pointer associated with a vertex as well as the character associated with the vertex. That is, in O(1) time, not only can characters be inserted or deleted, but also substrings can be moved or deleted. We limit our attention to the ability to move substrings and leave substring deletions for future research. Note that O(1) time substring move operations imply O(1) substring exchange operations as well, a form of transformation that has been of interest in molecular biology. We show that this problem is NP-complete, show that a “recursive” sequence of moves can be simulated with at most a constant factor increase by a non-recursive sequence, and present a polynomial time greedy algorithm for non-recursive moves with a worst-case log factor approximation to optimal. The development of this greedy algorithm shows how to reduce moves of substrings to moves of characters, and how to convert moves with characters to only insert and deletes of characters.


Greedy Algorithm Edit Distance Optimal Block Move Operation Primary Block 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana Shapira
    • 1
  • James A. Storer
    • 1
  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentBrandeis UniversityWaltham

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