Online algorithm
In computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, an online algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning...

is one that can process its input piece-by-piece in a serial fashion, i.e., in the order that the input is fed to the algorithm, without having the entire input available from the start. In contrast, an offline algorithm is given the whole problem data from the beginning and is required to output an answer which solves the problem at hand. (For example, selection sort
Selection sort
Selection sort is a sorting algorithm, specifically an in-place comparison sort. It has O time complexity, making it inefficient on large lists, and generally performs worse than the similar insertion sort...

 requires that the entire list be given before it can sort it, while insertion sort
Insertion sort
Insertion sort is a simple sorting algorithm: a comparison sort in which the sorted array is built one entry at a time. It is much less efficient on large lists than more advanced algorithms such as quicksort, heapsort, or merge sort...


Because it does not know the whole input, an online algorithm is forced to make decisions that may later turn out not to be optimal, and the study of online algorithms has focused on the quality of decision-making that is possible in this setting. Competitive analysis
Competitive analysis (online algorithm)
Competitive analysis is a method invented for analyzing online algorithms, in which the performance of an online algorithm is compared to the performance of an optimal offline algorithm that can view the sequence of requests in advance...

 formalizes this idea by comparing the relative performance of an online and offline algorithm for the same problem instance. For other points of view on online inputs to algorithms, see streaming algorithm
Streaming algorithm
In computer science, streaming algorithms are algorithms forprocessing data streams in which the input is presented as a sequence ofitems and can be examined in only a few passes...

 (focusing on the amount of memory needed to accurately represent past inputs), dynamic algorithm (focusing on the time complexity of maintaining solutions to problems with online inputs) and Online machine learning
Online machine learning
In machine learning, online learning is a model of induction that learns one instance at atime. The goal in online learning is to predict labels for instances.For example, the instances could describe the current conditions of...


A problem exemplifying the concepts of online algorithms is the Canadian Traveller Problem
Canadian traveller problem
In computer science and graph theory, the Canadian Traveller Problem is a generalization of the shortest path problem to graphs that are partially observable...

. The goal of this problem is to minimize the cost of reaching a target in a weighted graph where some of the edges are unreliable and may have been removed from the graph. However, that an edge has been removed (failed) is only revealed to the traveller when she/he reaches one of the edge's endpoints. The worst case for this problem is simply that all of the unreliable edges fail and the problem reduces to the usual Shortest Path Problem
Shortest path problem
In graph theory, the shortest path problem is the problem of finding a path between two vertices in a graph such that the sum of the weights of its constituent edges is minimized...

. An alternative analysis of the problem can be made with the help of competitive analysis. For this method of analysis, the offline algorithm knows in advance which edges will fail and the goal is to minimize the ratio between the online and offline algorithms' performance. This problem is PSPACE-complete
In complexity theory, a decision problem is PSPACE-complete if it is in the complexity class PSPACE, and every problem in PSPACE can be reduced to it in polynomial time...


Online algorithms

The names below are referenced with capital letters since they appear in papers with capital letters. The following are the names of some online algorithms:
  • Algorithms for the K-server problem
    K-server problem
    The k-server problem is a problem of theoretical computer science in the category of online algorithms, one of two abstract problems on metric spaces that are central to the theory of competitive analysis...

  • Double Coverage
  • Tight Span Algorithm
  • Tree Algorithm
  • Work Function Algorithm (WFA)

See also

  • Greedy algorithm
    Greedy algorithm
    A greedy algorithm is any algorithm that follows the problem solving heuristic of making the locally optimal choice at each stagewith the hope of finding the global optimum....

  • Adversary Model
    Adversary (online algorithm)
    In computer science, an online algorithm measures its competitiveness against different adversary models. For deterministic algorithms, the adversary is the same, the adaptive offline adversary...

  • Job shop scheduling
    Job Shop Scheduling
    Job shop scheduling is an optimization problem in computer science in which ideal jobs are assigned to resources at particular times. The most basic version is as follows:...

  • List update problem
  • Metrical task systems
    Metrical task systems
    Metrical task systems are abstract models for competitive analysis of online computation. Metrical task systems play roles in online problems such as paging, list accessing, and the k-server problem...

  • Odds algorithm
    Odds algorithm
    The odds-algorithm is a mathematical method for computing optimalstrategies for a class of problems that belong to the domain of optimal stopping problems. Their solution follows from the odds-strategy, and the importance of the...

  • Paging Problem
    Page replacement algorithm
    In a computer operating system that uses paging for virtual memory management, page replacement algorithms decide which memory pages to page out when a page of memory needs to be allocated...

  • Real-time computing
    Real-time computing
    In computer science, real-time computing , or reactive computing, is the study of hardware and software systems that are subject to a "real-time constraint"— e.g. operational deadlines from event to system response. Real-time programs must guarantee response within strict time constraints...

  • Secretary problem
    Secretary problem
    The secretary problem is one of many names for a famous problem of theoptimal stopping theory.The problem has been studied extensively in the fields ofapplied probability, statistics, and decision theory...

  • Ski rental problem
    Ski rental problem
    The ski rental problem is the name given to a class of problems in which there is a choice between continuing to pay a repeating cost or paying a one-time cost which eliminates or reduces the repeating cost.-The problem:...

  • Linear search problem
    Linear search problem
    In computational complexity theory, the Linear search problem is an optimal search problem introduced by Richard E. Bellman. .- The problem :...

  • Search games
    Search games
    A search game is a two-person zero-sum game which takes place in a set called the search space. The searcher can choose any continuous trajectory subject to a maximal velocity constraint...

  • Algorithms for calculating variance
    Algorithms for calculating variance
    Algorithms for calculating variance play a major role in statistical computing. A key problem in the design of good algorithms for this problem is that formulas for the variance may involve sums of squares, which can lead to numerical instability as well as to arithmetic overflow when dealing with...

  • Bandit problem
  • Ukkonen's algorithm
    Ukkonen's algorithm
    In 1995, Esko Ukkonen proposed a linear-time, online algorithm for constructing suffix trees that has come to be known as Ukkonen's algorithm.The algorithm begins with an implicit suffix tree containing the first character of the string. Then it steps through the string adding successive characters...

External links

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