Matrix Reordering for Noisy Disordered Matrices: Optimality and Computationally Efficient Algorithms

**Motivated by applications in single-cell biology and metagenomics, we consider matrix reordering based on the noisy disordered matrix model. We first establish the fundamental statistical limit for the matrix reordering problem in a decision-theoretic framework and show that a constrained least square estimator is rate-optimal. Given the computational hardness of the optimal procedure, we analyze a popular polynomial-time algorithm, spectral seriation, and show that it is suboptimal. We then propose a novel polynomial-time adaptive sorting algorithm with guaranteed improvement on the performance. The superiority of the adaptive sorting algorithm over the existing methods is demonstrated in simulation studies and in the analysis of two real single-cell RNA sequencing datasets.**

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