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Introduction To

Divide and Conquer

Divide and conquer is an algorithm design paradigm based on multi-branched recursion. A divide-and-conquer algorithm works by recursively breaking down a problem into two or more sub-problems of the same or related type, until these become simple enough to be solved directly. The solutions to the sub-problems are then combined to give a solution to the original problem.

This divide-and-conquer technique is the basis of efficient algorithms for all kinds of problems, such as sorting, finding the closest pair of points, syntactic analysis, and computing the discrete Fourier transform (FFT).

Understanding and designing divide-and-conquer algorithms is a complex skill that requires a good understanding of the nature of the underlying problem to be solved. As when proving a theorem by induction, it is often necessary to replace the original problem with a more general or complicated problem in order to initialize the recursion, and there is no systematic method for finding the proper generalization.

The correctness of a divide-and-conquer algorithm is usually proved by mathematical induction, and its computational cost is often determined by solving recurrence relations.

 

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