I am asked to select the functions that are bounded by the Big-Oh function O(n^2): $f(n) \in O(n^2)$.

  1. $f(n) = \sum_{i=1}^{n} n$
  2. $f(n) = \sum_{i=1}^{n} i$
  3. $f(n) = n + n^2$
  4. $f(n) = 1$

I choose the answers 1, 2, and 4:

  1. Simplifies to $n \cdot n = n^2$, which is bounded by $O(n^2)$
  2. Simplifies to $\frac{n(n + 1)}{2} = n^2/2 + 1/2$, which is bounded by $O(n^2)$
  3. $n^2 + n$ is obviously not bounded by $O(n^2)$
  4. $1$ is obviously bounded by $O(n^2)$

However, it was alerted to me that one of my answers is incorrect. That seems strange, considering that after expanding all the expressions mathematically, I believe that I have chosen whether they are bounded by $n^2$ correctly.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you familiar with the definition of big O? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


We have $n^2 + n = O(n^2)$. Indeed, if $n \geq 1$ then $n^2 \geq n$ and so $$ n^2 + n \leq 2n^2. $$


I know, that answer is done, is correct and is accepted, but let me add, that "function is bounded by $O(n^2)$" is not completely correct sentence and as such can lead to errors: $O(n^2)$ is set, so we can speak about boundedness by some member from it, but exact is to say, that function is bounded by some $\boldsymbol n^{ \boldsymbol 2}$ factor, starting from some number up to infinity.


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