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Local limit of the fixed point forest

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Consider the following partial “sorting algorithm” on permutations: take the first entry of the permutation in one-line notation and insert it into the position of its own value. Continue until the first entry is 1. This process imposes a forest structure on the set of all permutations of size n, where the roots are the permutations starting with 1 and the leaves are derangements. Viewing the process in the opposite direction towards the leaves, one picks a fixed point and moves it to the beginning. Despite its simplicity, this “fixed point forest” exhibits a rich structure. In this paper, we consider the fixed point forest in the limit n → ∞ and show using Stein’s method that at a random permutation the local structure weakly converges to a tree defined in terms of independent Poisson point processes. We also show that the distribution of the length of the longest path from a random permutation to a leaf converges to the geometric distribution with mean e − 1, and the length of the shortest path converges to the Poisson distribution with mean 1. In addition, the higher moments are bounded and hence the expectations converge as well.

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