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Problem: Given $c \in \mathbb { R } _ { + } ^ { n } , a \in \mathbb { R } _ { + } ^ { n }$ and $\gamma \in \mathbb { R } _ { + } ,$ design an algorithm which, in $O ( n \log n )$ operations, computes the optimal solution $x ^ { * }$ to the following linear program :

$$\begin{array} { c l } { \max } & { c ^ { T } x } \\ { \text { s.t. } } & { a ^ { T } x \leq \gamma } \\ { } & { 0 \leq x _ { i } \leq 1 , \quad \forall i \in [ n ] } \end{array}$$

You may assume that a set of $n$ real numbers can be sorted in time $O ( n \log n )$ and that each arithmetic operation takes constant time.

I tried multiple things without much success.

  1. Start with a feasible solution, for example $0^{T}$ and add $(1/2)^k$ to each coordination at each of the $k$ iterations until the constraints aren't satisfied anymore. I'm not sure this solution would be in $O ( n \log n )$.

  2. Compute the dual of the LP, we know by strong duality that the objective value of the optimal solution of the dual is equal to the objective value of the optimal solution of the primal. However I'm not sure how solving the dual would be any easier.

  3. Lastly I tried to see if the simplex method combined with an adequate sorting would work but the simplex algorithm is in polynomial time.

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Reply to query by OP (too long for a comment)

If you assume not merely that $\ c ^ { T } x^* < c ^ { T } y^* \ $, but that $\ y^*\ $ is also the optimal solution (which must exist, because the objective function is continuous, and the set of feasible points is compact) you can get your contradiction by showing that the value of the objective can be improved by modifying $\ y^*\ $. Taking your $y_{j_0}^* > 0\ $, for instance, with $\ j_0\in \left\{i_{k+2},\dots,i_n\right\}\ $, we must have $\ x_{j_0}^*=0\ $, and therefore $\ y_{i_j}^*< x_{i_j}^*\le 1\ $ for some $\ j=1,2,\dots,k+1\ $(because $\ \sum_\limits{i=1}^n a_i y_i^* \le \min\left(\gamma, \sum_\limits{i=1}^n a_i\right) = \sum_\limits{i=1}^n a_i x_i^*\ $). So now, if we decrease $\ y_{j_0}^*\ $ by $\ \frac{\delta}{a_{j_0}}\ $, and increase $\ y_{i_j}^*\ $ by $\ \frac{\delta}{a_{i_j}}\ $, where $\ \delta = \min\left(a_{j_0}y_{j_0}^*, a_{i_j}\left(1-y_{i_j}^*\right) \right)\ $, then all the constraints will still be satisfied, and the objective function will increase by $\ \left(\frac{c_{i_j}}{a_{i_j}}-\frac{c_{j_0}}{a_{j_0}}\right)\delta\ $, which is positive, from the way $\ \frac{c_{i_j}}{a_{i_j}}\ $ are ordered, and this contradicts the supposed optimality of $\ y^*\ $.

There's still a good deal of i-dotting and t-crossing necessary to complete the proof, and it's probably easier to prove it by showing that the dual: $$\begin{array} {c l} \text {Minimise} & \lambda_0\gamma + \sum_\limits{i=1}^n \lambda_i & \\ \text {subject to} & \lambda_0 a^T +\lambda^T \ge c^T & \\ \text {and} & \lambda_i \ge 0 & \text{for } i=0,1,\dots, n \end{array}$$ has a feasible solution: $$\begin{array} {cl} \lambda_0^* &= &\frac{c_{i_{k+1}}}{a_{i_{k+1}}} & \\ \lambda_{i_j}^*& = &c_{i_j}-\frac{a_{i_j}c_{i_{k+1}}}{a_{i_{k+1}}} & \text{for } j=1,2,\dots,k\\ \lambda_{i_j}^*& = & 0 & \text{for } j=k+1,k+2,\dots,n \end{array}$$ with $\ \lambda_0^*\gamma + \sum_\limits{i=1}^n \lambda_i^*=c^T x^*\ $, which implies that both $\ \lambda^*\ $ and $\ x^*\ $ are optimal for their respective programs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question. $\endgroup$ – NotAbelianGroup May 3 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ You're welcome. Since answering it, I've realised that a proof using duality is probably easier, and I've now added a sketch of such a proof to my answer $\endgroup$ – lonza leggiera May 3 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ That's a very elegant proof, thank you again. I was trying to come up with a solution related to the dual but couldn't find a relation with the output of the algorithm. $\endgroup$ – NotAbelianGroup May 4 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ When you have a putatively optimal solution of a linear program, you can use the complementary slackness conditions and equality of the objectives to obtain linear equations for a putative solution of the dual. In this case, $\ x_{i_j}^*<1 \implies \lambda_{i_j}^*=0\ $, $\ x_{i_j}^* > 0\implies \lambda_0^* \,a_{i_j}+\lambda_{i_j}^* = c_{i_j}\ $. $\endgroup$ – lonza leggiera May 5 at 3:04
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Think of it this way. Each unit of $x_i$ has a benefit $c_i$ and a cost $a_i$, and you have a total budget of $\gamma$. You should buy as much as possible of the $x_i$'s with the highest values of $c_i/a_i$.

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  • $\begingroup$ Should I try to sort the $a_i$ (or the $c_i$) in increasing order, and then "buy as much as possible of the $x_i$'s? $\endgroup$ – NotAbelianGroup Apr 30 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ No. You sort the $\ c_i/a_i\ $ from highest to lowest: $\ c_{i_1}/a_{i_1}, c_{i_2}/a_{i_2},\dots, c_{i_n}/a_{i_n}\ $, and find the largest value of $\ k\ $ for which $\ \sum_\limits{j=1}^k a_{i_j} \le \gamma\ $, then set $\ x_{i_j}=1\ $ for $\ j=1,2, \dots , k\ $, and $\ x_{i_{k+1}}= \left(\gamma-\sum_\limits{j=1}^k a_{i_j}x_{i_j}\right)/a_{i_{k+1}}\ $. $\endgroup$ – lonza leggiera Apr 30 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @lonzaleggiera Thank you very much for your answer. I am now trying to prove optimality of this solution. I tried to prove optimality by contradiction, suppose we have $x^*$ the output of the algorithm as described, $y^*$ such that $c^{T}x^{*} < c^{T}y^{T}$. We may say that there is an index $i_{j_{0}}$ such that $c_{{j_{0}}}x^{*}_{{j_{0}}} < c_{{j_{0}}}y^{*}_{{j_{0}}} $. However I don't know where the contradiction would rise off if this index $j_{0}$ if $j_{0} \in$ {$k+2,...,n$}. $\endgroup$ – NotAbelianGroup May 1 at 15:13

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