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Given an array a of N integers, perform Q operations to increase the range [i, j] by k.

To solve this problem, we could increment all elements in the given range, but that would be worst case \mathcal{O}(n) per operations. If there are many operations, the program will be too slow. Instead of incrementing all of the elements, use a difference array!

The difference array contains the differences from one element to the next in the array.

Consider an array with 6 elements, initialized to 0:

{0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0}

After the operation 1 3 2, which means increment the range [1, 3] by 2, the array is:

{0, 2, 2, 2, 0, 0}

In terms of difference, the difference between a[0] and a[1] is 2. The difference between a[1] and a[2] is 0. The difference between a[2] and a[3] is also 0. Finally, the difference between a[3] and a[4] is -2. Thus, the difference array will look like:

{0, 2, 0, 0, -2, 0}

Let d be the difference array. For the increment operation i j k, d[i] is increased by k and d[j + 1] is decreased by k. You may want to increase the difference array size by 1 to avoid going out of bounds.

To convert the difference array into the actual array, perform a prefix sum array construction operation on it.


The following is a simple initialization of a difference array. Typically, difference arrays are initialized with all elements as 0.

int[] d = new int[N + 1]; // An extra element, to prevent going out of bounds.

Increment operations are shown below.

static void increment(int l, int r, int k) { // Left and right ends of the range.
	d[l] += k;
	d[r + 1] -= k;

You should know how to perform the prefix sum array construction operation already. Most difference array questions ask for an answer at the end, such as the largest element, or the number of elements that exceed a given constant. Usually, these can be done simultaneously to the prefix sum array construction. A largest element search is shown below.

static void increment(int l, int r, int k) { // Left and right ends of the range.
int max = Integer.MIN_VALUE;
int cur = 0;

for (int n = 0; n < N; n++) {
	cur += d[n];
	if(cur > max)
		max = cur;

Time complexity

Increment operation: \mathcal{O}(1) Array construction: \mathcal{O}(N), where N is the size of the array.

Space complexity

\mathcal{O}(N), where N is the size of the original array.

The difference array is a data structure which allows fast incrementing of ranges of numbers. However, it requires processing before the actual array can be accessed.


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