# What would be the big-o time complexity of this scenario? [duplicate]

I am wondering what the time complexity of a for loop that increments the control variable, but also multiplies it inside the loop. For example

for (int k = 0; k < n; k++)
{
stuff

k *= 2;
}


I am thinking it must be something like O(log n), but I know that is not it. Any help would be appreciated.

## marked as duplicate by Raphael♦Jan 31 at 21:49

It is $$O(\log n)$$. Simply take a look at the number of iterations your loop produces when $$n$$ goes up. I know this is not a proof, btw. You can observe that if $$n = 2^p$$, for some $$p \geqslant 0$$, the number of iterations inside the loop increases by one. Clearly, this happens only $$O(\log n)$$ times, and therefore your loop has $$O(\log n)$$ iterations.

Now a lightly more formal attempt, but still with a few holes here and there.

We observe that at the end of the loop $$k = 2^{\lfloor \log n \rfloor + 1} - 1.$$

Technically, we should prove this using a loop invariant or induction, but I'm a little too lazy for that now. If we let $$n = 2^p$$, for some integer $$p \geqslant 1$$, then we get that $$\lfloor \log n \rfloor = \lfloor \log(n - 1) \rfloor + 1$$. Let $$k_n$$ denote the value of $$k$$ after $$n$$ iterations. Then

$$k_n = 2^{p + 1} - 1 = 2^{\lfloor \log(n - 1) \rfloor + 2} - 1 > 2^{\lfloor \log(n - 1) \rfloor + 1} - 1 = k_{n - 1}.$$

So we conclude that $$k_n$$ has grown over $$k_{n-1}$$, but only if $$n = 2^p$$. Therefore, the number of iterations is $$O(\log n)$$.

### Edit

A far more intuitive approach is to consider the code

int k = 0;
for (int i = 0; k < n; i++) {
if (i = 1) {
k = 1;
}
k *= 2;
}


Clearly, your code causes $$k$$ to converge more quickly to $$n$$ than this example, and this loop finishes after $$O(\log n)$$ iterations. Clearly, your code will also at most use $$O(\log n)$$ iterations.

• Nice answer. It seems the argument could be simpler. At the end of $i$-th iteration, $k=2^i-2$. It follows there are $\lceil\log_2(n+1)\rceil$ iterations. – Apass.Jack Jan 31 at 22:30