Worst-case complexity

Upper bound on resources required by an algorithm / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In computer science (specifically computational complexity theory), the worst-case complexity measures the resources (e.g. running time, memory) that an algorithm requires given an input of arbitrary size (commonly denoted as n in asymptotic notation). It gives an upper bound on the resources required by the algorithm.

In the case of running time, the worst-case time complexity indicates the longest running time performed by an algorithm given any input of size n, and thus guarantees that the algorithm will finish in the indicated period of time. The order of growth (e.g. linear, logarithmic) of the worst-case complexity is commonly used to compare the efficiency of two algorithms.

The worst-case complexity of an algorithm should be contrasted with its average-case complexity, which is an average measure of the amount of resources the algorithm uses on a random input.