The "runs" theorem

Hideo Bannai, Tomohiro I, Shunsuke Inenaga, Yuto Nakashima, Masayuki Takeda, Kazuya Tsuruta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


We give a new characterization of maximal repetitions (or runs) in strings based on Lyndon words. The characterization leads to a proof of what was known as the "runs" conjecture [R. M. Kolpakov andG.Kucherov, Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS), IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos, CA, 1999, pp. 596-604]), which states that the maximum number of runs ρ(n) in a string of length n is less than n. The proof is remarkably simple, considering the numerous endeavors to tackle this problem in the last 15 years, and significantly improves our understanding of how runs can occur in strings. In addition, we obtain an upper bound of 3n for the maximum sum of exponents σ(n) of runs in a string of length n, improving on the best known bound of 4.1n by Crochemore et al. [J. Discrete Algorithms, 14 (2012), pp. 29-36], as well as other improved bounds on related problems. The characterization also gives rise to a new, conceptually simple linear-time algorithm for computing all the runs in a string. A notable characteristic of our algorithm is that, unlike all existing linear-time algorithms, it does not utilize the Lempel-Ziv factorization of the string. We also establish a relationship between runs and nodes of the Lyndon tree, which gives a simple optimal solution to the 2-period query problem that was recently solved by Kociumaka et al. [Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, (SODA) 2015, San Diego, CA, SIAM, Philadelphia, 2015, pp. 532-551].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1501-1514
Number of pages14
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Mathematics(all)


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