I am trying to find out how they calculated the time complexity of this small function . I am studying for an exam and found this question and the final answer is given, but I am trying to understand how they got to this answer, I tried solving this problem using Iterative but when I tried to find the number of Iterations of this function I got stuck !

What I tried: let $T(n,k)$ represent the time complexity of $g$. It satisfies the recurrence

$$ T(n,k)=ck+\sum_{j=1}^i(2^j-1)k + T(n-i,2^ik)$$

when $i$ is the number of iteration in this function, so according to this function the iteration ends when $n\le k$, which means $n-i=2^ik$, but I couldn't extract $i$ from the equation.

Here is the function, whose time and space complexity are stated to be $\Theta(n)$ and $\Theta(\log n)$:

   int g(int n, int k) {  
      if (n <= k) return 1; 

      int result = 0; 
      for (int i = k; i > 0; --i, ++result); 

      return result + g(n - 1, 2 * k);

    int f2(int n) {
      return g(n, 2); 

1 Answer 1


Let $k_i = 2^i$, and define $m$ to be the minimum value such that $n-(m-1) \leq k_m$. It's not hard to check that the running time of $f_2$ is $\Theta(k_1 + \cdots + k_{m-1})$. Since $k_i$ grows exponentially, $k_1 + \cdots + k_{m-1} = \Theta(k_m)$, and so the running time of $f_2$ is $\Theta(k_m)$.

It remains to find the minimum integer value of $m$ which satisfies $n-m < k_m = 2^m$. Clearly this minimum value is at most $\log_2 n$, implying that $2^m \leq n$. This also means that the critical value of $m$ satisfies $2^m > n-\log_2 n = \Omega(n)$. Therefore $k_m = \Theta(n)$, and so the running time of $f_2$ is $\Theta(n)$.

Regarding the space complexity, it is proportional to the depth of the recursion, which as we have seen is very close to $\log_2 n$.

  • $\begingroup$ thank you so much ! but I am trying to understand how you got to this :"Clearly this minimum value is at most log(n) " ? this is actually the part that I didn't understand from the beginning … if we do log on both sides we will get : log(n-m) < m , you said that m at maximum is log(n) .. but why you ignored the minus m in this equation ? $\endgroup$
    – memeeol
    Oct 24, 2019 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ This is because $2^{\log_2 n} = n > n-\log_2 n$. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2019 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ thank you ! just one last thing : after I found the number of iteration can I say that we have log(n) iteration where each one takes 2^i time so we sum all of the 2^i (geometric series) and I did this and got to theta(n) ? because I found this approach easier or this is wrong ? $\endgroup$
    – memeeol
    Oct 24, 2019 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ This gives you an upper bound. For a lower bound you need a lower bound on the number of iterations. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2019 at 15:05

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