Many algorithms include a step such as "select the largest number from a given numeric array", or "select the leftmost point from a given set of points", etc. In many cases, it is possible that the set contains more than one largest/leftmost element, and in this case, it irrelevant which largest element to choose.

My question is: when I describe an algorithm in a CS paper, is there a concise way to say: "Select the largest element from set X, and if there is more than one largest elements, select one of them arbitrarily"? Currently this sentence appears many times and makes my algorithms look unneccessarily cumbersome.

I thought of writing: "Select a largest element from set X" or "select one leftmost point from set X". Is this clear enough?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It is clear, or maybe even "Select an arbitrary largest element". Maybe this is better suited for Computer Science? $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Oct 31, 2013 at 12:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I prefer to say "select a maximum element". $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2013 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ You can also use select an optimal answer. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Nov 1, 2013 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


"Select a largest/leftmost" is the usual way of phrasing this. If, in the particular situation, you feel it would help to make it explicit, you could say something like "Select a largest element from the set $X$ (which is not necessarily unique)".


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