Abstract: We extend the binary search technique to searching in trees. We consider two models of queries: questions about vertices and questions about edges. We present a general approach to this sort of problem, and apply it to both cases, achieving algorithms constructing optimal decision trees.
In the edge query model the problem is identical to the problem of searching in a special class of tree-like posets stated by Ben-Asher, Farchi and Newman. Our upper bound on computation time, $O(n^3)$, improves the previous best known $O(n^4 \log^3 n)$. In the vertex query model we show how to compute an optimal strategy much faster, in $O(n)$ steps. We also present an almost optimal approximation algorithm for another class of tree-like (and forest-like) partial orders.
Comment: An improved algorithm for the edge-query model can be found in the paper Finding an Optimal Tree Searching Strategy in Linear Time.