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You should always be on the lookout for reductions to problems you already know how to solve.
Reduction is the single most common technique used in designing algorithms. Reducing one problem X to another problem Y means to write an algorithm for X that uses an algorithm for Y as a black box.
A problem A reduces to a problem B, if an algorithm that solves B can be easily translated into one that solves A. For example, the problem of computing the median element of an array reduces to the problem of sorting the array.
You should always be on the lookout for reductions. Whenever you encounter a seemingly new problem, always ask:
When you send a package by Federal Express from uptown New York City to downtown New York City, the package will be routed through Memphis. Federal Express routes all packages through Memphis, so when they are faced with the special situation of delivering packages across town they “already know how to solve the problem.” In this case, the solution makes sense.
It may be much more difficult to identify a special situation and to build a mechanism to handle that situation more efficiently. It may be easier, and overall cheaper, to handle everything equally. This is also often true in algorithm design.
When we encounter a problem that can be posed as a special case of another problem, whose solution is already known, then the known solution can be used. Such a solution may sometimes be too general or too expensive. But in many cases, using a general solution is the the easiest, the fastest, and the most elegant way to get a solution. We use this principle every day.
For some computing problems for example, a database query it is usually not necessary to write a program that solves only this problem; it is sufficient to use generalpurpose software that handles more general problems. The generalpurpose solution may not be the most efficient solution, but it is much easier to use.
Suppose that we are given a problem P that seems complicated, but that also seems similar to a known problem Q. We can try to solve P from scratch, or we can try to borrow some of the methods used to solve Q and apply them to P.
There is, however, a third way. We can try to find a reduction (or transformation) between the two problems. Loosely speaking, a reduction is a solution of one problem using a “black box” that solves the other problem. Reductions can achieve one of two goals depending on the direction in which they are done (i.e.,which black box is used to solve which problem).
A solution of P that uses a black box for Q can be translated into an algorithm for P if we know an algorithm for Q. On the other hand, if P is known to be a hard problem, or, in particular, if we know a lower bound for P, then the same lower bound may be applied to Q. In the former case, the reduction is used to obtain information about P, wherease, in the latter case, it is used to obtain information about Q.
For example consider the problems of matrix multiplication and matrix squaring (multiplying the matrix with itself). Clearly, we can square a matrix with a matrix multiplication algorithm. Therefore, the problem of matrix squaring can be reduced to the problem of matrix multiplication.
An effective way to use reductions is to define a general problem to which many problems can be reduced. Finding such a general problem is not easy. This problem should be general enough to cover a wide variety of problems, but it must also be simple enough to have an efficient solution. One such problem is linear programming.
Reference: Introduction to Algorithms  A Creative Approach by Udi Manber
Problem reduction is a fundamental approach often employed when devising algorithms. It involves framing a problem (Problem X) in terms of another problem (Problem Y) that we already know how to solve. If Problem X can be reduced to Problem Y, this means we can develop an algorithm for X that utilizes an algorithm for Y as a ‘black box’.
In simpler terms, if problem A can be reduced to problem B, an algorithm that can solve problem B can be adapted to solve problem A. A case in point is the problem of finding the median of an array; this can be reduced to sorting the array.
Whenever you encounter an unfamiliar problem, always consider if:
Always be on the alert for reductions to problems that you already have solutions for. It’s a useful practice that can simplify the process of algorithm development.
Consider the case of shipping packages via Federal Express. All packages, regardless of their destination, are routed through Memphis. Consequently, even when dealing with local deliveries, Federal Express utilizes an approach that they are already familiar with. This might not always be the most efficient method, but it can often be the most feasible and costeffective.
Similarly, in algorithm design, we can sometimes simplify problemsolving by handling all problems uniformly, even though some might be special cases that require a different approach.
For certain computing issues, such as a database query, it isn’t necessary to devise a solution that exclusively solves that problem. Instead, one could utilize a generalpurpose solution that handles a broader range of problems. Although such a solution might not be the most efficient, it’s often the easiest and fastest route to a solution.
Identifying a reduction between two problems can be beneficial even if it doesn’t directly lead to a new understanding of the problem’s complexity. The reduction can enhance our understanding of both problems, inspire new strategies for tackling the problem or its variations, and could even facilitate the design of a parallel algorithm for the problem.
If we encounter a complex problem P that appears similar to a known problem Q, we could attempt to solve P from scratch, or apply methods used to solve Q to P. A third alternative is to find a reduction between the two problems, essentially solving one problem using a ‘black box’ that solves the other. This can be achieved in one of two ways depending on the direction of the reduction.
An algorithm for P that uses a black box for Q can be translated into an algorithm for P, assuming we have an algorithm for Q. Conversely, if P is known to be a difficult problem (or if we know a lower bound for P), the same lower bound can be applied to Q.
For instance, consider the problem of matrix multiplication and matrix squaring. It’s clear that we can square a matrix using a matrix multiplication algorithm, meaning the problem of matrix squaring can be reduced to the problem of matrix multiplication.
One of the effective ways to use reductions is to identify a general problem to which a multitude of problems can be reduced. Though finding such a problem can be challenging, it’s often rewarding as it should be general enough to cover a broad spectrum of problems yet simple enough to have an efficient solution. A typical example of such a problem is linear programming.
Reductions are a powerful tool in algorithm design and analysis, helping us draw parallels between seemingly unrelated problems and harnessing the solutions of known problems to tackle new ones. They can provide us with efficient solutions, and more importantly, a deep understanding of the underlying patterns and connections among various computational challenges.
Realworld problems rarely present themselves in the form we’ve encountered before. Hence, learning to spot potential reductions becomes an essential skill, not just in the field of computer science, but in any domain that involves problemsolving.
By relating a new problem to a known problem, we can often save substantial effort, avoid potential pitfalls, and achieve a faster and often more robust solution. On the flip side, if we find out that a problem we’re working on can be reduced to a known hard problem, we might decide to look for approximate solutions, or change our approach, saving us from pursuing a potentially fruitless path.
In the end, the art of problemsolving, whether it be in computer science or in real life, often involves standing on the shoulders of giants, leveraging past solutions, and continuously learning from our experiences. Reductions provide us with a structured way of doing this, and mastering them can greatly enhance our problemsolving capabilities.
Here is content on Problem Reduction in Algorithm Design following the specified structure:
Problem reduction is a technique in algorithm design that involves transforming a problem into another problem that is easier to solve. The goal is to leverage the solution for the reduced problem to solve the original problem. Common reduction techniques include:
Transform to a known problem  Reduce the problem to a known, solved problem so existing solutions can be applied.
Simplify to a base case  Reduce problems to simpler base cases that can be solved directly.
Relax constraints  Remove difficult constraints to simplify the problem and get an approximate solution.
Divide into subproblems  Break the problem into independently solvable parts.
Specialize to a subset  Solve the problem for a subset of the cases first.
Generalize for insights  Solve a more general form of the problem to gain algorithmic insights.
Example in Java:


Example in C++:


Example in Python:


In summary, problem reduction is an effective technique in algorithm design. Transforming problems into known or simplified forms allows leveraging known solutions and insights to tackle difficult problems.