Hello! This blog is dedicated to some simple yet really affective algorithms to help increase your rating. Reading this will help you get a better overview of the algorithms/concepts so that when you start studying them it will be way easier and faster for you to implement them. In this blog I will go over 3 techniques: DFS, Dynamic Programming and Binary Search.

**Binary Search**

In computer science, binary search, also known as half-interval search, logarithmic search, or binary chop, is a search algorithm that finds the position of a target value within a sorted array. Binary search compares the target value to the middle element of the array. If they are not equal, the half in which the target cannot lie is eliminated and the search continues on the remaining half, again taking the middle element to compare to the target value, and repeating this until the target value is found. If the search ends with the remaining half being empty, the target is not in the array.

Binary search runs in logarithmic time in the worst case, making O(logn) comparisons, where n is the number of elements in the array. Binary search is faster than linear search except for small arrays. However, the array must be sorted first to be able to apply binary search. There are specialized data structures designed for fast searching, such as hash tables, that can be searched more efficiently than binary search. However, binary search can be used to solve a wider range of problems, such as finding the next-smallest or next-largest element in the array relative to the target even if it is absent from the array.

There are numerous variations of binary search. In particular, fractional cascading speeds up binary searches for the same value in multiple arrays. Fractional cascading efficiently solves a number of search problems in computational geometry and in numerous other fields. Exponential search extends binary search to unbounded lists. The binary search tree and B-tree data structures are based on binary search.

**Algorithm**

Binary search works on sorted arrays. Binary search begins by comparing an element in the middle of the array with the target value. If the target value matches the element, its position in the array is returned. If the target value is less than the element, the search continues in the lower half of the array. If the target value is greater than the element, the search continues in the upper half of the array. By doing this, the algorithm eliminates the half in which the target value cannot lie in each iteration.

**Dynamic Programming**

Dynamic programming is both a mathematical optimization method and a computer programming method. The method was developed by Richard Bellman in the 1950s and has found applications in numerous fields, from aerospace engineering to economics. In both contexts it refers to simplifying a complicated problem by breaking it down into simpler sub-problems in a recursive manner. While some decision problems cannot be taken apart this way, decisions that span several points in time do often break apart recursively. Likewise, in computer science, if a problem can be solved optimally by breaking it into sub-problems and then recursively finding the optimal solutions to the sub-problems, then it is said to have optimal substructure.

If sub-problems can be nested recursively inside larger problems, so that dynamic programming methods are applicable, then there is a relation between the value of the larger problem and the values of the sub-problems. In the optimization literature this relationship is called the Bellman equation.

**Mathematical optimization**

In terms of mathematical optimization, dynamic programming usually refers to simplifying a decision by breaking it down into a sequence of decision steps over time. This is done by defining a sequence of value functions V1, V2, ..., Vn taking y as an argument representing the state of the system at times i from 1 to n. The definition of Vn(y) is the value obtained in state y at the last time n. The values Vi at earlier times i = n −1, n − 2, ..., 2, 1 can be found by working backwards, using a recursive relationship called the Bellman equation. For i = 2, ..., n, Vi−1 at any state y is calculated from Vi by maximizing a simple function (usually the sum) of the gain from a decision at time i − 1 and the function Vi at the new state of the system if this decision is made. Since Vi has already been calculated for the needed states, the above operation yields Vi−1 for those states. Finally, V1 at the initial state of the system is the value of the optimal solution. The optimal values of the decision variables can be recovered, one by one, by tracking back the calculations already performed.

**Depth-first Search**

Depth-first search (DFS) is an algorithm for traversing or searching tree or graph data structures. The algorithm starts at the root node (selecting some arbitrary node as the root node in the case of a graph) and explores as far as possible along each branch before backtracking. Extra memory, usually a stack, is needed to keep track of the nodes discovered so far along a specified branch which helps in backtracking of the graph.

A version of depth-first search was investigated in the 19th century by French mathematician Charles Pierre Trémaux as a strategy for solving mazes.

**Properties**

The time and space analysis of DFS differs according to its application area. In theoretical computer science, DFS is typically used to traverse an entire graph, and takes time O(|V|+|E|), where |V| is the number of vertices and |E| is the number of edges. This is linear in the size of the graph. In these applications it also uses space O(|V|) in the worst case to store the stack of vertices on the current search path as well as the set of already-visited vertices. Thus, in this setting, the time and space bounds are the same as for breadth-first search and the choice of which of these two algorithms to use depends less on their complexity and more on the different properties of the vertex orderings the two algorithms produce.

For applications of DFS in relation to specific domains, such as searching for solutions in artificial intelligence or web-crawling, the graph to be traversed is often either too large to visit in its entirety or infinite (DFS may suffer from non-termination). In such cases, search is only performed to a limited depth; due to limited resources, such as memory or disk space, one typically does not use data structures to keep track of the set of all previously visited vertices. When search is performed to a limited depth, the time is still linear in terms of the number of expanded vertices and edges (although this number is not the same as the size of the entire graph because some vertices may be searched more than once and others not at all) but the space complexity of this variant of DFS is only proportional to the depth limit, and as a result, is much smaller than the space needed for searching to the same depth using breadth-first search. For such applications, DFS also lends itself much better to heuristic methods for choosing a likely-looking branch. When an appropriate depth limit is not known a priori, iterative deepening depth-first search applies DFS repeatedly with a sequence of increasing limits. In the artificial intelligence mode of analysis, with a branching factor greater than one, iterative deepening increases the running time by only a constant factor over the case in which the correct depth limit is known due to the geometric growth of the number of nodes per level.

DFS may also be used to collect a sample of graph nodes. However, incomplete DFS, similarly to incomplete BFS, is biased towards nodes of high degree.

**Examples**

For the following graph:

a depth-first search starting at the node A, assuming that the left edges in the shown graph are chosen before right edges, and assuming the search remembers previously visited nodes and will not repeat them (since this is a small graph), will visit the nodes in the following order: A, B, D, F, E, C, G. The edges traversed in this search form a Trémaux tree, a structure with important applications in graph theory.

Performing the same search without remembering previously visited nodes results in visiting the nodes in the order A, B, D, F, E, A, B, D, F, E, etc. forever, caught in the A, B, D, F, E cycle and never reaching C or G.

Iterative deepening is one technique to avoid this infinite loop and would reach all nodes.

**Output of a depth-first search**

The result of a depth-first search of a graph can be conveniently described in terms of a spanning tree of the vertices reached during the search. Based on this spanning tree, the edges of the original graph can be divided into three classes: forward edges, which point from a node of the tree to one of its descendants, back edges, which point from a node to one of its ancestors, and cross edges, which do neither. Sometimes tree edges, edges which belong to the spanning tree itself, are classified separately from forward edges. If the original graph is undirected then all of its edges are tree edges or back edges.

**Vertex orderings**

It is also possible to use depth-first search to linearly order the vertices of a graph or tree. There are four possible ways of doing this: A preordering is a list of the vertices in the order that they were first visited by the depth-first search algorithm. This is a compact and natural way of describing the progress of the search, as was done earlier in this article. A preordering of an expression tree is the expression in Polish notation.

A postordering is a list of the vertices in the order that they were last visited by the algorithm. A postordering of an expression tree is the expression in reverse Polish notation.

A reverse preordering is the reverse of a preordering, i.e. a list of the vertices in the opposite order of their first visit. Reverse preordering is not the same as postordering.

A reverse postordering is the reverse of a postordering, i.e. a list of the vertices in the opposite order of their last visit. Reverse postordering is not the same as preordering.For binary trees there is additionally in-ordering and reverse in-ordering.

For example, when searching the directed graph below beginning at node A, the sequence of traversals is either A B D B A C A or A C D C A B A (choosing to first visit B or C from A is up to the algorithm). Note that repeat visits in the form of backtracking to a node, to check if it has still unvisited neighbors, are included here (even if it is found to have none). Thus the possible preorderings are A B D C and A C D B, while the possible postorderings are D B C A and D C B A, and the possible reverse postorderings are A C B D and A B C D.

Reverse postordering produces a topological sorting of any directed acyclic graph. This ordering is also useful in control-flow analysis as it often represents a natural linearization of the control flows. The graph above might represent the flow of control in the code fragment below, and it is natural to consider this code in the order A B C D or A C B D but not natural to use the order A B D C or A C D B.

**Useful Links:**

Dynamic programming: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/dynamic-programming/

Dfs: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/depth-first-search-or-dfs-for-a-graph/

Binary Search: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/binary-search/