Definition: Find the maximum of a set of n elements in ⌈log n⌉ "rounds" (passes) by "playing" (comparing) pairs of elements and advancing the winner (greater) of each pair to the next round. It takes n-1 comparisons, like linear search, but may be parallelized, extended to also find the second greatest element, etc.

See also select kth element, select and partition.

Note: The second greatest element can be found with log n - 1 additional comparisons.

Author: GS


Forbes D. Lewis' essay on Order Statistics and Tournaments (C).
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Entry modified 17 December 2004.
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Cite this as:
Gopinath Srinivasan, "tournament", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Vreda Pieterse and Paul E. Black, eds. 17 December 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from: