Problem 14.2

Josephus permutation

We define the Josephus problem as follows. Suppose that $n$ people form a circle and that we are given a positive integer $m \le n$. Beginning with a designated first person, we proceed around the circle, removing every $m$th person. After each person is removed, counting continues around the circle that remains. This process continues until we have removed all $n$ people. The order in which the people are removed from the circle defines the $(n,m)$-Josephus permutation of integers $1, 2, \ldots, n$. For example, the $(7, 3)$-Josephus permutation is $\langle 3, 6, 2, 7, 5, 1, 4 \rangle$.

  1. Suppose that $m$ is a constant. Describe an $\O(n)$-time algorithm that, given an integer $n$, outputs the $(n, m)$-Josephus permutation.
  2. Suppose that $m$ is not a constant. Describe an $\O(n \lg n)$-time algorithm that, given all integers $n$ and $m$, outputs the $(n, m)$-Josephus permutation.

Constant $m$

This is a very evil way to spell "an $\O(mn)$-time algorithm". I honestly got stuck here, until I realized that the point was to have a simpler algorithm that does not take $m$ into account.

Thus, it's simple:

  1. Put all the numbers in a linked list and make it circular
  2. Start with the first number and loop until you empty the list
  3. Output the current number, remove it from the list, an advance $m$ times.

At some point you end up removing the last number, which means we're done. It's not that hard to implement, so I would not bother.

$\O(n \lg n)$ time


First of all, we need to use an order statistic tree. Then, we simply start with selecting the $m$-th element, output it, delete it, and then look $m$ elements ahead, wrapping around with some modulo arithmetic and accounting for the deleted element.

Python code below. Note that the index awkwardness is due to the 1-based indexing of our ranks. Note as well that we don't just need OS-SELECT, but also the size property of the tree/root.

Python code

import sys, os
sys.path.append(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), '..', 'misc'))

from order_statistic_tree import OrderStatisticTree

def josephus(n, m):
    tree = OrderStatisticTree()

    for i in list(range(1, n + 1)):

    current = 1
    result = []

    while tree.root:
        current = (current + m - 2) % tree.root.size + 1
        node =

    return tuple(result)