In Elements of Programming Interviews in Python by Aziz, Lee and Prakash, they state on page 41:

Insertion into a full array can be handled by resizing, i.e., allocating a new array with additional memory and copying over the entries from the original array. This increases the worst-case time of insertion, but if the new array has, for example, a constant factor larger than the original array, the average time for insertion is constant since resizing is infrequent.

I grasp the concept of amortization that seems to be implied here, yet they seem to imply that in other cases, a newly allocated array could possess a constant factor smaller than the original array. Is that so? What does "constant factor" mean in this particular context? I'm having trouble understanding what's being said here.

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    – Raphael
    Apr 21, 2019 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


That's probably a typo or poor wording -- in the quote, "has" should be "is".


This approach suggest to pick any constant factor $k>1$ and use that whenever one needs to reallocate the array. That is, each time the array becomes full and has $n$ elements, a new array of size $k\cdot n$ is allocated, and data is copied from the old array.

It is important here to multiply the size by a constant $k$ rather than, say, adding a fixed amount of additional entries (moving from $n$ to $n+k$) to achieve a better amortized complexity.


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