Decision tree model

In computational complexity the decision tree model is the model of computation in which an algorithm is considered to be basically a decision tree, i.e., a sequence of branching operations based on comparisons of some quantities, the comparisons being assigned unit computational cost.

The branching operations are called “tests” or “queries”. In this setting the algorithm in question may be viewed as a computation of a Boolean function where the input is a series of queries and the output is the final decision. Each query may be dependent on previous queries.

Several variants of decision tree models have been introduced, depending on the complexity of the operations allowed in the computation of a single comparison and the way of branching.

Decision trees models are instrumental in establishing lower bounds for complexity theory for certain classes of computational problems and algorithms. The computational complexity of a problem or an algorithm expressed in terms of the decision tree model is called its decision tree complexity or query complexity.

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