Noga Alon, Emil Powierski, Michael Savery, Alex Scott, Elizabeth Wilmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For an oriented graph D and a set X \subseteq V (D), the inversion of X in D is the digraph obtained by reversing the orientations of the edges of D with both endpoints in X. The inversion number of D, inv(D), is the minimum number of inversions which can be applied in turn to D to produce an acyclic digraph. Answering a recent question of Bang-Jensen, da Silva, and Havet we show that, for each k \in \BbbN and tournament T, the problem of deciding whether inv(T) \leq k is solvable in time Ok(|V (T)|2), which is tight for all k. In particular, the problem is fixed-parameter tractable when parameterized by k. On the other hand, we build on their work to prove their conjecture that for k \geq 1 the problem of deciding whether a general oriented graph D has inv(D) \leq k is NP-complete. We also construct oriented graphs with inversion number equal to twice their cycle transversal number, confirming another conjecture of Bang-Jensen, da Silva, and Havet, and we provide a counterexample to their conjecture concerning the inversion number of so-called dijoin digraphs while proving that it holds in certain cases. Finally, we asymptotically solve the natural extremal question in this setting, improving on previous bounds of Belkhechine, Bouaziz, Boudabbous, and Pouzet to show that the maximum inversion number of an n-vertex tournament is (1 + o(1))n.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-347
Number of pages21
JournalSIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Science FoundationDMS-2154082
Bloom's Syndrome Foundation2018267
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilEP/X013642/1


    • digraphs
    • inversion
    • tournaments


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