Explanation with Images

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    The Image above represents the following
    All these are for the input array [-2,0,3,-5,2,-1]
    The inout array and the 0 based index ( highlighted in yellow ) are shown.

    Idea is to represent this array in a n*n matrix where n is the size of the initial array.

    There are 2 ways of doing this representation. Table 1 show one way
    In Table 1 , note the following

    • Diagonal represents the original array. so arr[i][j] = nuts[i]

    • The values in the next column come from the previous column
      row 0, col 0 = Since there is no column before it, nothing to do
      row 1, col 1 = This is a diagonal, so we already know its value
      row 0, col 1 = row 0 , col 0 + row 1, col1

      row 2, col 2 = Diagonal value , so its same as nums[2]
      row 1, col2 = row1,col1 + row2,col2
      row 0,col 2 = row0, col2 + row2, col2

    You get the idea

    Here is the code.

        private int[][] ints;
        public NumArray(int[] nums) {
            ints = new int[nums.length][nums.length];
        private void populate(int[] nums){
            for (int i=0; i < nums.length; i++){
                ints[i][i] = nums[i];
                for (int j= i-1; j >=0; j--){
                    ints[j][i] = ints[j][i-1] + ints[i][i];
        public int sumRange(int i, int j) {
            return ints[i][j];

    The issue is that this uses n*n matrix space and its still a O(n2) due to initial population of array

    But, the idea to expand the problem to get a better understanding. Thats how the mind works, right ;)

    Key thing to notice above are these things

    1. The table was build from the fact the diagonal has the same values as the input array.
    2. The table was build bottom up, as in, from the diagonal value to the rows above it and this was done for each column.
    3. After the n*n matrix is build, take a look at the first row. It sure looks like a cumulative array. Nice!! Now knowing this , we can start to optimize the solution.

    Next, lets look at TABLE 2
    Based on the discoveries of TABLE1 , we use those to build table 2

    1. We know that if we can get a cumulative array , represented by first row, then the rest of the table can be build.
    2. To build from row 0 to all the other rows, we would have to go top ( row 0 ) to bottom. Do this for every column, like it was done in TABLE 1

    The last column in the table shows the example, which follows the following rule

    row0 - represents the cumulative array , lets call it cArr

    val(i,j) = cArr(j) - cArr(i)

    Thats it, this means, that there is no need to build a n*n array if we know the cumulative Array

    Now the code is easy

    public class NumArray {
    int[] nums;
    public NumArray(int[] nums) {
        for(int i = 1; i < nums.length; i++)
            nums[i] += nums[i - 1];
        this.nums = nums;
    public int sumRange(int i, int j) {
        if(i == 0)
            return nums[j];
        return nums[j] - nums[i - 1];

    I have seen a lot of people post a similar solution for this problem, and they look like geniuses. I spend about 4 hours on this problem from start to finish. Thats a long time and with this article I want to say that, it does take time, initially. So if you are seeing this problem or similar problems and its taking you time to come up with a solution, its ok. Take you time, because with that time, your wirings in the brain are also changing and that change is slow and long process.
    Second point I want to make is that, when solving problems like these, expand the problem, even if expansion of the problem is using extra space along with additional time. So expansion of a problem is causing both Time And Space complexity to increase. ... And thats Ok, because with the expansion of the problem, you will discover new things , and you can build on top of those new things a optimal solution. This type of thinking process goes a long way during interviews.
    Imagine if you got this problem during Google interview. If you start by expanding the problem ... which atleast solves the problem and then you optimize it. I say, you are hired.

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