Swapping labeled tokens on graphs

Katsuhisa Yamanaka, Erik D. Demaine, Takehiro Ito, Jun Kawahara, Masashi Kiyomi, Yoshio Okamoto, Toshiki Saitoh, Akira Suzuki, Kei Uchizawa, Takeaki Uno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Consider a puzzle consisting of n tokens on an n-vertex graph, where each token has a distinct starting vertex and a distinct target vertex it wants to reach, and the only allowed transformation is to swap the tokens on adjacent vertices. We prove that every such puzzle is solvable in O(n2) token swaps, and thus focus on the problem of minimizing the number of token swaps to reach the target token placement. We give a polynomial-time 2-approximation algorithm for trees, and using this, obtain a polynomial-time 2α-approximation algorithm for graphs whose tree α-spanners can be computed in polynomial time. Finally, we show that the problem can be solved exactly in polynomial time on complete bipartite graphs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-94
Number of pages14
JournalTheoretical Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 27


  • Approximation
  • Complete bipartite graph
  • Graph algorithm
  • Sorting network
  • Tree

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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