Recurrence relations are a tool for analyzing recursive algorithms.
An example you may be familiar with is MergeSort? . A recursion diagram for mergesort looks like this:
Define T(n) to be the time taken to mergesort n elements (neglecting constant factors). Then T(n) satisfies the following:
The above relation between T(n) and T(n/2) is called a recurrence relation.
The relation is true because the time to mergesort an array with n elements equals the time to mergesort an array with n/2 elements, plus the time to mergesort another array with n/2 elements, plus n.
Similarly, a recurrence relation for the time to do a binary search on an array of N elements is:
That is, a binary search in an array of size N does constant work, then recurses on one of the two halves of the array (a problem of size N/2).
The recursion diagram in this case just looks like this:
N | N/2 | N/4 | ... | 4 | 2 | 1
In this case, the work associated with each node of the tree is 1, and the depth of the tree is log(N), so the total work done is O(log N).
The number of single-disc moves to transfer N discs in the TowersOfHanoi? problem satisfies:
The corresponding recursion diagram is a complete binary tree of depth N, and for each node, 1 disc is moved. Thus, the total number of moves made to transfer N discs is 2N-1.
1. recursion diagram is a complete binary tree of depth log3 n. The Ith level from the top has 2i nodes, each with work n/3i.
Total work is
2. same as above but each node has 3 children, so the Ith level from the top has 3i nodes.
Total work is
3. now each node has 4 children, so total work is
1. recursion diagram is of depth log3 n. Each node has 8 children. The Ith level from the top has 8i nodes, each with work (n/3i)2 = n2 / 9i .
Total work is
2. Total work is
3. Total work is
No recursion diagram!?
Try repeated substitution. Use the recurrence relation to replace T(n/3.1) with (1.5 T(n/3.12) + (n/3.1)0.5 :
After i substitutions, get T(n) = (1.5)i T(n / 3.1i) + (1.5)i-1 [n/3.1i-1]0.5 + ... .
Taking i = \log3.1 n, after i substitutions the term left is T(1) (or at least T(O(1))), which we substitute using the base case of the recurrence relation. This gives us
Since 1.5 < 3.10.5, this is O(n0.5). (See GeometricSums .)
Can make a recursion diagram for this. Every node has two children, but depth is uneven, and work is not the same for each node on a level. Try guessing, then prove by induction.
Guess that T(n) ≤ 10 n. Attempt proof by induction:
What is the best constant that would work?
Guess that T(n) ≤ c n. Attempt proof by induction:
Need c(1/3+1/2)+1 ≤ c . True iff c ≥ 6 .
Conclude T(n) ≤ 6 n .