A combinatorial treatment of balancing networks

Busch Costas, Marios Mavronicolas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


Balancing networks represent a new class of distributed, lowcontention data structures suitable for solving many fundamental multi-processor coordination problems that can be expressed as balancing problems. In this work, we present a mathematical study of the combinatorial structure of balancing networks, and its applications in deriving impossibility results and verification algorithms for such networks. Our study identifies important combinatorial transfer parameters of balancing networks. Necessary and sufficient conditions are derived, expressed in terms of these parameters, which precisely characterize many important and well studied classes of these networks, such as counting, smoothing and sorting networks. Immediate implications of these conditions include analogs for these network classes of the Zero-One principle holding for sorting networks. In particular, these conditions precisely delimit the boundary between sorting and counting networks. We use the necessity of the shown combinatorial conditions in deriving impossibility results of two kinds. Impossibility results of the former kind establish sharp restrictions on achievable network widths for several classes of balancing networks; these results significantly improve upon previous ones shown in [2, 20] in terms of strength, generality and proof simplicity. Impossibility results of the latter kind provide the first known lower bounds on network size for several classes of balancing networks. We use the sufficiency of the shown combinatorial conditions in designing the first formal algorithms for mathematically verifying that a given network belongs to each of a variety of classes. These algorithms are simple, modular and easy to implement, consisting merely of multiplying matrices and evaluating matricial functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, PODC 1994
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)0897916549
StatePublished - Aug 14 1994
Externally publishedYes
Event13th Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, PODC 1994 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: Aug 14 1994Aug 17 1994

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing
VolumePart F129432


Conference13th Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, PODC 1994
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLos Angeles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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