Complexities of the Centre and Median String Problems

  • François Nicolas
  • Eric Rivals
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2676)


Given a finite set of strings, the median string problem consists in finding a string that minimizes the sum of the distances to the strings in the set. Approximations of the median string are used in a very broad range of applications where one needs a representative string that summarizes common information to the strings of the set. It is the case in Classification, in Speech and Pattern Recognition, and in Computational Biology. In the latter, Median String is related to the key problem of Multiple Alignment. In the recent literature, one finds a theorem stating the NP-completeness of the median string for unbounded alphabets. However, in the above mentioned areas, the alphabet is often finite. Thus, it remains a crucial question whether the median string problem is NP-complete for finite and even binary alphabets. In this work, we provide an answer to this question and also give the complexity of the related centre string problem. Moreover, we study the parametrized complexity of both problems with respect to the number of input strings.


Edit Distance Input String Polynomial Time Approximation Scheme Levenshtein Distance Binary Alphabet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Nicolas
    • 1
  • Eric Rivals
    • 1
  1. 1.L.I.R.M.M., CNRS U.M.R. 5506Montpellier Cedex 5France

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