Given a sequence of real numbers $\{a_1, a_2, a_3 \ldots a_n\}$, I wish to design a data structure that supports the following operations on it.

  1. $\mathrm{REVERSE}(i,j):$ Reverse the contiguous subsequence $a_i, a_{i+1}\ldots a_j$ i.e. swap $a_i$ with $a_j$, $a_{i+1}$ with $a_{j-1}$ so on and so forth.
  2. $\mathrm{REPORT}(i):$ Report the $i$-th element of the sequence.

In my attempt so far I have tried to construct a binary tree each node of which maintains a composition of reversals of the underlying segment but it doesn't seem like this approach can work. Any help is appreciated.


1 Answer 1


You can get both operations in $O(\log n)$ time with a binary tree. The idea is to store a boolean at each node indicating whether or not the entire subtree underneath the node is logically (not physically) reversed. You can then reverse a node in $O(1)$, by toggling the boolean.

Logical reversal is pretty easy to handle: any time you would descend into a node, check if the node is marked as reversed; if so, then swap and logically reverse its children.

Using this approach, we can adapt standard split/join primitives. And then, using split/join, we can implement REVERSE(i,j) like this:

  1. split at offsets i and j to produce three trees left, middle, and right,
  2. logically reverse middle by toggling the boolean at its root, and
  3. join the three trees.

This requires only $O(\log n)$ time on a balanced tree.

Here's some pseudocode. The implementation of REPORT should hopefully demonstrate how logical reversal is handled.

// elements of type T
type Tree<T> {
  elem: T,
  left: Tree<T>,
  right: Tree<T>,
  size: int,
  rev: bool

function TOGGLE(tree) {
  tree.rev = !(tree.rev);
  return tree;

// swap and toggle children, if necessary. O(1) time.
function NORMALIZE(tree) {
  if (tree.rev) {
    left = tree.left;
    right = tree.right;
    tree.left = TOGGLE(right);
    tree.right = TOGGLE(left);
    tree.rev = False;

function REPORT(tree, i) {

  if (i <= tree.left.size)
    return REPORT(tree.left, i);
  else if (i == tree.left.size + 1)
    return tree.elem;
    return REPORT(tree.right, i - tree.left.size - 1);

function REVERSE(tree, i, j) {
  left, tmp = SPLIT(tree, i);
  middle, right = SPLIT(tmp, j-i+1);
  return JOIN(left, JOIN(TOGGLE(middle), right))

function SPLIT(tree, i) { /* omitted... */ }
function JOIN(tree1, tree2) { /* omitted... */ }

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