Topological sort

A topological sort of a directed graph lists source nodes before target nodes. For example, if there is a directed edge from A to B and from C to A, then the nodes would be list C, A, B.

The Unix utility tsort will do a topological sort. The input to the utility is a text file with two items per line, separated by white space, indicating a directed edge from the first item to the second.

Here is a thumbnail image of a graph of relationships between special functions. See this page for a full-sized image and an explanation of what the arrows represent.

special function relationships

I took the GraphViz file used to create the graph and formatted it for tsort. Then I randomly shuffled the file with shuf.

    Gegenbauer_polynomials Legendre_polynomials
    Gegenbauer_polynomials Chebyshev_polynomials_Second_kind
    Hypergeometric_2F1 Jacobi_polynomials
    Error_function Fresnel_S
    Hypergeometric_1F1 Error_function

The lines are not sorted topologically because, for example, the Gegenbauer polynomials are special cases of the Hypergeometric 2F1 functions, so Hypergeometric 2F1 should be listed before Gegenbauer polynomials.

When I ran the shuffled file through tsort I got


and now in this list more general functions always come before special cases. If you think of the direct edges as references, all references in the sorted list are forward references; there are no backward references.

Related posts

#Topological #sort