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###### Calvin Secrest

24,812 Points# I am stump on what is the complexity and Big O notation within this algorithm

In the video for binary search the worst case scenario is the target '8' but that means big O notation would be O(log 8) given n=8. Also since this is binary search it will have logarithmic time in the worst case scenario. Yet while loop shows as follows

''' while first <= last: midpoint = (first + last)//2 '''

Is divide by two but in the list for the midpoint is at 4 is that why we divide by two? Also how can the while loop be constant time and logarithmic time together in the same condition? I hope this isn't a confusing question, but any explanation could help.

Thanks!

## 3 Answers

###### Paul Brubaker

14,263 PointsBecause the length of the list is halved with each iteration of the while loop, we get a time complexity of O(log(n)). If it is helpful for you to think of O(log(n)) in concrete terms, by substituting 8 for n, you will see that this algorithm does indeed have a worst case performance of ceiling( log2(8) + 1 ) iterations of the while loop to complete. Imagine we have some while loop that will iterate at most log2(n) + 1 times for any input n and target within n, and within that while loop there is some constant number k of constant time operations that take place. The total maximum number of operations needed is then ceiling( k*log2(n) + 1 ). In big O notation, multiplication by a constant works as follows: O(|k|g) = O(g) if k is nonzero (source: wikipedia) It's not that the constant time operations just go away, it's that they are increasingly irrelevant compared to the logarithmic time operation as n becomes large. I hope this helps, the question was a little hard to understand.

###### gustavoalvarado

4,947 PointsThe complexity is a logarithmic runtime for the upper bound time limit, and/or O(log n).

Because there is one part of the algorithm wich involves logarithmic runtime (the while loop). Even if there are other parts with a constant runtim, remember that we implement the "Worst case scenario" to predict any possible situations.

Have a nice time !

###### rond

146 PointsIt's not that the constant time operations just go away, it's that they are increasingly irrelevant compared to the logarithmic time operation as n becomes large.

Excellent explanation, in case this wasn't already clear.

Thanks!