Write in brief about divide and conquer strategy.

Subject: Analysis Of Algorithm

Topic: Divide Aqnd Conquer

Difficulty: Medium

aoa(14) • 1.4k  views

Like Greedy and Dynamic Programming, Divide and Conquer is an algorithmic paradigm. A typical Divide and Conquer algorithm solves a problem using following three steps.

  1. Divide: Break the given problem into subproblems of same type.

  2. Conquer: Recursively solve these subproblems

  3. Combine: Appropriately combine the answers

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Following are some standard algorithms that are Divide and Conquer algorithms.

1) Binary Search is a searching algorithm. In each step, the algorithm compares the input element x with the value of the middle element in array. If the values match, return the index of middle. Otherwise, if x is less than the middle element, then the algorithm recurs for left side of middle element, else recurs for right side of middle element.

2) Quicksort is a sorting algorithm. The algorithm picks a pivot element, rearranges the array elements in such a way that all elements smaller than the picked pivot element move to left side of pivot, and all greater elements move to right side. Finally, the algorithm recursively sorts the subarrays on left and right of pivot element.

3) Merge Sort is also a sorting algorithm. The algorithm divides the array in two halves, recursively sorts them and finally merges the two sorted halves.

4) Closest Pair of Points The problem is to find the closest pair of points in a set of points in x-y plane. The problem can be solved in O(n^2) time by calculating distances of every pair of points and comparing the distances to find the minimum. The Divide and Conquer algorithm solves the problem in O(nLogn) time.

5) Strassen’s Algorithm is an efficient algorithm to multiply two matrices. A simple method to multiply two matrices need 3 nested loops and is O(n^3). Strassen’s algorithm multiplies two matrices in O(n^2.8974) time.

6) Cooley–Tukey Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm is the most common algorithm for FFT. It is a divide and conquer algorithm which works in O(nlogn) time.

Example of divide and conqure method

Merge Sort Like QuickSort, Merge Sort is a Divide and Conquer algorithm. It divides input array in two halves, calls itself for the two halves and then merges the two sorted halves. The merge() function is used for merging two halves. The merge(arr, l, m, r) is key process that assumes that arr[l..m] and arr[m+1..r] are sorted and merges the two sorted sub-arrays into one. See following C implementation for details. MergeSort(arr[], l, r)

If r > l 1. Find the middle point to divide the array into two halves:
middle m = (l+r)/2

 2. Call mergeSort for first half:   
         Call mergeSort(arr, l, m)

 3. Call mergeSort for second half:
         Call mergeSort(arr, m+1, r)

 4. Merge the two halves sorted in step 2 and 3:
         Call merge(arr, l, m, r)

The following diagram from wikipedia shows the complete merge sort process for an example array {38, 27, 43, 3, 9, 82, 10}. If we take a closer look at the diagram, we can see that the array is recursively divided in two halves till the size becomes 1. Once the size becomes 1, the merge processes comes into action and starts merging arrays back till the complete array is merged.

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