I am having trouble figuring out how to solve this recurrence problem...

$$ \begin{aligned} &4T(n/2) + n \\ = &4(4T(n/4) + n/4) + n \\ = &16T(n/4) + 2n \\ = &4^kT(n/2^k) + kn \end{aligned} $$

I lose the trail here and I cannot figure out how to finish it and actually find the complexity. Can anyone help? How can this be done?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Use the master theorem. Alternatively, you're almost there. What is the value of $k$ for which $n/2^k = 1$? Take it from there. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ @YuvalFilmus thanks for your answer. That would be, $\log(n)$ if I am not mistaken. I thought that might be the next step from reading about the Master theorem ... but I know the final runtime of the recurrence is $O(n^2)$ and it seems like the solution you lead me to says it is $O(n \log n)$. Did I miss something? $\endgroup$
    – Joff
    Jun 24, 2020 at 12:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A recurrence doesn't have a runtime. Also, if $f(n) = O(n^2)$, this doesn't preclude the possibility that $f(n) = O(n\log n)$. Recall that big O is just an upper bound. It doesn't have to be tight. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ Furthermore, you seem to be missing the base case. Suppose that $T(1) = 1$. What does $4^k T(n/2^k)$ equal to when $k = \log_2 n$? $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ would it be $4^{\log_2 n}$? $\endgroup$
    – Joff
    Jun 25, 2020 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


We can use Master Theorem to solve this :

If a Recurrence Relation is of the Form


Then, as per Master Theorem, we have Six Conditions depending on value of $a,b,k$ and $p$

  • If $\log_ba>k$
    Answer is $\theta(n^{\log_ba})$

  • If $\log_ba=k$ and $p>-1$
    Answer is $\theta({n^k}({\log n})^{p+1})$

  • If $\log_ba=k$ and $p=-1$
    Answer is $\theta({n^k}\log\log n)$

  • If $\log_ba=k$ and $p<-1$
    Answer is $\theta(n^k)$

  • If $\log_ba<k$ and $p\geqslant0$
    Answer is $\theta({n^k}({\log n})^p)$

  • If $\log_ba<k$ and $p<0$
    Answer is $\theta({n^k})$

In any problem, our main motive is to find $a,b,k$ and $p$.

In Given Problem

Now, $\log_24 = 2$ which is greater than $k$ $(1)$ Therefore, Answer is $\theta(n^{\log_ba})$

Putting Value(s)



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