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Exercises for "Algorithmic Efficiency"

Counting primitive operations

Exercise: Consider this way of computing the mean of a sequence of numbers:

accumulator = 0
for n in numbers:
	accumulator += n
mean = accumulator / len(numbers)

Count how many primitive operations it takes. To do it correctly you need to distinguish between updating a variable and assigning a value to a new one. Updating the accumulator accumulator += n usually maps to a single operation on a CPU because it involves changing the value of a number that is most likely in a register. Assigning to a new variable, as in

mean = accumulator / len(numbers)

doesn’t update accumulator with a new value, rather it needs to compute a division, which is one operation (and it needs len(numbers) before it can do this, which is another operation), and then write the result in a new variable, which is an additional operation.

Exercise: Consider this alternative algorithm for computing the mean of a sequence of numbers:

accumulator = 0
length = 0
for n in numbers:
	accumulator += n
	length += 1
mean = accumulator / length

How many operations are needed here? Is it more or less efficient than the previous algorithm?

Guessing-game complexity

Recall the guessing game from the previous chapter, where one player thinks a number between 1 and 20 and the other has to guess it. We had three strategies for the guesser:

  1. Start with one. If it isn't the right number, it has to be too low—there are no smaller numbers the right one could be. So if it isn't one, you guess it is two. If it isn't, you have once again guessed too low, so now you try three. You continue by incrementing your guess by one until you get the right answer.
  2. Alternatively, you start at 20. If the right number is 20, great, you got it in one guess, but if it is not, your guess must be too high—it cannot possibly be too small. So you try 19 instead, and this time you work your way down until you get the right answer.
  3. The third strategy is this: you start by guessing ten. If this is correct, you are done, if it is too high, you know the real number must be in the range [1,9], and if the guess is too low, you know the right answer must be in the range [11,20]—so for your next guess, you pick the middle of the range it must be. With each new guess, you update the interval where the real number can be hidden and pick the middle of the new range.

Exercise: Identify the best- and worst-case scenarios for each strategy and derive the best-case and worst-case time usage.

Function growth

Consider the classes

  1. O(log n), o(log n), Ω(log n) and ⍵(log n)
  2. O(n), o(n), Ω(n), and ⍵(n)
  3. O(n²), o(n²), Ω(n²), and ⍵(n²)
  4. O(2ⁿ), o(2ⁿ), Ω(2ⁿ), ⍵(2ⁿ)

Exercise: For each of the functions below, determine which of the 16 classes it belongs in. Remember that the complexity classes overlap, so for example, if f ∈ o(g) then f ∈ O(g) as well, and if f ∈ Θ(g) then f ∈ O(g) as well as Ω(g) (but f ∉ o(g) and f ∉ ⍵(g)).

  1. f(n) = 23 × n
  2. f(n) = 42 × n² - 100 × n
  3. f(n) = n / log(n)
  4. f(n) = log(n) / n
  5. f(n) = n²/log(n)
  6. f(n) = log(n) + log(n)/n
  7. f(n) = 5ⁿ - n³
  8. f(n) = n!
  9. f(n) = 2ⁿ/n
  10. f(n) = log(log(n))

Insertion sort

Consider the insertion sort algorithm. We argued that the worst-case running time was O(n²) but the best-case running time was O(n).

Exercise: Describe what the input data, numbers, should look like to actually achieve the worst- and best-case running times.

Binary search

We argued that the worst-case running time for the binary search is O(log n).

Exercise: What is the best-case running time, and what would the input data look like to achieve it?

Sieve of Eratosthenes

Recall the Sieve of Eratosthenes from the previous chapter.

Exercise: Derive an upper bound for its running time.

Exercise: Is there a difference between its best-case and worst-case running time?


Recall the merging algorithm from the previous chapter.

Exercise: Show that you can merge two sorted lists of size n and m, respectively, into one sorted list containing the elements from the two, in time O(n+m).