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Introduction to DP

Authors: Michael Cao, Benjamin Qi

Speeding up naive recursive solutions with memoization.

Dynamic Programming (DP) is an important algorithmic technique in Competitive Programming from the gold division to competitions like the International Olympiad of Informatics. By breaking down the full task into sub-problems, DP avoids the redundant computations of brute force solutions.

Although it is not too difficult to grasp the general ideas behind DP, the technique can be used in a diverse range of problems and is a must-know idea for competitors in the USACO Gold division.

General Resources

Resources
CPH

Great introduction that covers most classical problems. Mentions memoization.

TC

great for all skill levels

CPC

examples with nonclassical problems

CP2

describes many ways to solve example problem, additional classical examples

HR

also covers many classical problems

PAPS

starts with DAGs, which are covered in "Topological Sort"

If you prefer watching videos instead, here are some options:

Resources
Youtube

Great Introductory Errichto DP Video

Youtube

Another Errichto DP video regarding coin change

Youtube

Another Errichto DP video

Youtube

more DP videos, but some are more related to interview questions than CP

Pro Tip

It's usually a good idea to write a slower solution first. For example, if the complexity required for full points is O(N)\mathcal{O}(N) and you come up with a simple O(N2)\mathcal{O}(N^2) solution, then you should definitely type that up first and earn some partial credit. Afterwards, you can rewrite parts of your slow solution until it is of the desired complexity. The slow solution might also serve as something to stress test against.

Classical Problems

The next few modules provide examples of some classical problems, or Dynamic Programming problems which are well known. However, classical doesn't necessarily mean common. Since so many competitors know about these problems, problemsetters rarely set direct applications of them.

Problemsets

Resources
CSES

You should know how to do all of these once you're finished with the DP section. Editorials are available here.

AC

Some tasks are beyond the scope of Gold.

CF

Beginner-friendly classical problems. Some tasks requires input/output files. Here you can check the solutions.

Some of these problems will be mentioned in the next few modules.

Introductory USACO

Easier USACO problems that don't require many optimizations or complex states.

Note - Ordering of DP Modules

You are not expected to complete all of the problems below before starting the other DP modules. In particular, we recommend that you begin with the "easy" problems from the knapsack module if this is your first encounter with DP.

StatusSourceProblem NameDifficultyTags
GoldEasy
Show TagsDP
GoldEasy
Show TagsDP
GoldNormal
Show TagsDP
GoldNormal
Show TagsDP
GoldEasy
Show Tags2P, Binary Search, DP

Harder USACO

StatusSourceProblem NameDifficultyTags
GoldHard
Show TagsDP
GoldHard
Show TagsDP
GoldHard
Show TagsDP, Floyd-Warshall, Prefix Sums
PlatHard
Show TagsDP
GoldVery Hard
Show TagsDP
GoldVery Hard
Show TagsDP

Module Progress:

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