Brent’s algorithm is a cycle detection algorithm that is used to find a cycle in a sequence. It was introduced in 1976 by Richard Brent, an Australian mathematician and computer scientist. The algorithm is particularly useful in finding cycles in linked lists, but it can be applied to any sequence of values.
Here is an implementation of Brent’s algorithm in OCaml:
let brent_algorithm f x0 =
let rec loop power lam tortoise hare =
if tortoise = hare then lam
else if power = lam then loop (2 * power) 0 hare hare
else loop power (lam + 1) tortoise (f hare)
in loop 1 0 x0 (f x0)
brent_algorithm function takes two arguments:
f, a function that takes a value and returns the next value in the sequence, and
x0, the initial value in the sequence. The function returns the length of the cycle in the sequence.
Here is an example of how to use the
let f x = (x * x + 1) mod 23
let x0 = 1
let cycle_length = brent_algorithm f x0
In this example,
f is a function that generates a sequence of values using the formula
x^2 + 1 (mod 23),
x0 is the initial value of the sequence, and
cycle_length is the length of the cycle in the sequence.
Brent’s algorithm uses two pointers to traverse the sequence: a slow pointer (tortoise) and a fast pointer (hare). The algorithm starts by setting the slow pointer to the initial value in the sequence and the fast pointer to the next value in the sequence. It then repeatedly moves the slow pointer one step at a time and the fast pointer two steps at a time, until they meet at a value that has been visited before.
At this point, the algorithm starts a second phase. It sets the fast pointer to the value of the slow pointer and starts moving the slow pointer one step at a time again. It also keeps track of the distance the fast pointer has moved since it was last equal to the slow pointer. When the fast pointer catches up to the slow pointer again, the distance it has moved is the length of the cycle in the sequence.
The algorithm also includes a mechanism for periodically increasing the distance the fast pointer moves, to avoid getting stuck in a loop that is not part of the cycle.
The time complexity of Brent’s algorithm is O(μ + λ), where μ is the distance between the start of the sequence and the start of the cycle, and λ is the length of the cycle. This is because the algorithm performs at most 2(μ + λ) iterations of the loop, and each iteration takes O(1) time.
The space complexity of the algorithm is O(1), since it only uses a constant amount of memory to store the two pointers and a few other variables.
Brent’s algorithm is generally faster than Floyd’s algorithm, another cycle detection algorithm, because it uses a combination of the tortoise and hare pointers and periodic distance increases to avoid getting stuck in a loop that is not part of the cycle.