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Generalization of Greater to matrices

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  • Subject: [mg20278] Generalization of Greater to matrices
  • From: "Hermann Meier" <hmeier at>
  • Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 02:19:53 -0400
  • Organization: EUnet AG, Switzerland. A KPNQwest Company.
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Dear Mathematica Users,

I tried to solve the following seemingly not to complicated problem, to no

M1, M2, M3 ...  are matrices of equal dimensions. The task is to  find the
"greatest" among them. The elements of this matrix, say M2,  should be (in
principle) greater than all the corresponding elements of M1, M3, Mx....
Furthermore, a kind of a "slack variable" (s) should be introduced.
(Requiring a matrix to be the "strictly greatest" one would be a condition
too hard to meet in some of my practical applications.) A matrix should
therefore be considered "greatest",  if all but s elements (say 8 out of 10)
are greater than the corresponding elements of the other matrices. (Such a
matrix perhaps could be called "dominating".)  The case of s = 0 is that of
the "strictly greatest" matrix.

Greater or GreaterEqual, Max ... do not work with matrices. Sort accepts
{M1,M2,M3 ..}, but there seems to be no built-in functionality to arrive at
my desired result.

Therefore I tried to set up GreaterMatrix (rather than overloading Greater).
GreaterMatrix should also work as an ordering relation in Sort. So
Sort[{M1,M2,M3..}, GreaterMatrix] should rank M1, M2, M3 according to the
above-mentioned criteria.

GreaterMatrix can be (but has not to be) restricted to two-dimensional
matrices. The following expressions may be  pieces usable for a solution:

Outer[Count[(#1 - #2), _?Positive, 2] &, {M1,M2,M3}, {M1,M2,M3}, 1]
subtracts M1, M2, M3 from each other and counts the number of positive
values in the resulting matrix. A positive value equal to dim
(=Apply[Times,Dimensions[M1]])  at position {i,j}, say  {2,3}, would
indicate that matrix  M2 is strictly greater than M3. Outer[Count[(#1 - #2),
_?(#>=(dim-s)?), 2] &, {M1,M2,M3}, {M1,M2,M3}, 1] may indicate a matrix that
is just "dominating" another one.

FoldList[GreaterMatrix, M0, {M1, M2, M3}]]//Rest - with M0 a starting matrix
like Table[-10^10, {First[dim]},{Last[dim]}] -  may give a succession of
"increasing" matrices.  (For this also see  Mathematica Book, Online
Version, Further Examples to Max.)

There is also TopologicalSort in package DiscreteMath`Combinatorica` which
may or may not be useful  in the present context. (I am not sure if
TopologicalSort corresponds to the topological sort as explained in Knuth,
The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 1, 3rd ed., ch. 2.2.3, p. 261 - 271.)

The problem looks like quite a challenge (to me as a mid-level user). I was
not able to put my pieces of code together into a working program that would
pass all my tests. I would appreciate contributions of Mathematica experts.
Such contributions perhaps may even show - possible - extensions to Greater,
GreaterEqual, Less, LessEqual, Max, Min ... for handling matrices in a
future version of Mathematica.

Yours sincerely,
Hermann Meier

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