Non-Uniqueness of Minimal Superpermutations


We examine the open problem of finding the shortest string that contains each of the n! permutations of n symbols as contiguous substrings (i.e., the shortest superpermutation on n symbols). It has been conjectured that the shortest superpermutation has length \(\sum_{k=1}^n k!\) and that this string is unique up to relabelling of the symbols. We provide a construction of short superpermutations that shows that, if the conjectured minimal length is true, then uniqueness fails for all n ≥ 5. Furthermore, uniqueness fails spectacularly; we construct more than doubly-exponentially many distinct superpermutations of the conjectured minimal length.


  • Nathaniel Johnston


Cite as:

  • N. Johnston. Non-uniqueness of minimal superpermutations. Discrete Mathematics, 313:1553–1557, 2013.

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