Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Adrian Dumitrescu

Committee Members

Christine Cheng, Jeb Willenbring, Guangwu Xu, Yi Ming Zou


communication complexity, independence number, longest spanning tree, piercing number, selection, stretch factor


This dissertation investigates two sets of algorithmic and combinatorial problems. Thefirst part focuses on the selection problem under the pairwise comparison model. For the classic “median of medians” scheme, contrary to the popular belief that smaller group sizes cause superlinear behavior, several new linear time algorithms that utilize small groups are introduced. Then the exact number of comparisons needed for an optimal selection algorithm is studied. In particular, the implications of a long standing conjecture known as Yao’s hypothesis are explored. For the multiparty model, we designed low communication complexity protocols for selecting an exact or an approximate median of data that is distributed among multiple players.

In the second part, three computational geometry problems are studied. For the longestspanning tree with neighborhoods, approximation algorithms are provided. For the stretch factor of polygonal chains, upper bounds are proved and almost matching lower bound constructions in \mathbb{R}^2 and higher dimensions are developed. For the piercing number τ and independence number ν of a family of axis-parallel rectangles in the plane, a lower bound construction for ν = 4 that matches Wegner’s conjecture is analyzed. The previous matching construction for ν = 3, due to Wegner himself, dates back to 1968.