Sorting and preimages of pattern classes
We introduce an algorithm to determine when a sorting operation, such as stack-sort or bubble-sort, outputs a given pattern. The algorithm provides a new proof of the description of West-2-stack-sortable permutations, that is permutations that are completely sorted when passed twice through a stack, in terms of patterns. We also solve the long-standing problem of describing West-3-stack-sortable permutations. This requires a new type of generalized permutation pattern we call a decorated pattern.