Abstract: We explore the fundamental problem of sorting through the lens of learning-augmented algorithms, where algorithms can leverage possibly erroneous predictions to improve their efficiency. We consider two different settings: In the first setting, each item is provided a prediction of its position in the sorted list. In the second setting, we assume there is a ``quick-and-dirty'' way of comparing items, in addition to slow-and-exact comparisons. For both settings, we design new and simple algorithms using only $O(\sum_i \log \eta_i)$ exact comparisons, where $\eta_i$ is a suitably defined prediction error for the $i$th element. In particular, as the quality of predictions deteriorates, the number of comparisons degrades smoothly from $O(n)$ to $O(n\log n)$. We prove that this comparison complexity is theoretically optimal with respect to the examined error measures. An experimental evaluation against existing adaptive and non-adaptive sorting algorithms demonstrates the potential of applying learning-augmented algorithms in sorting tasks.
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