The closest pair problem is the famous problem of finding out the closest pair of points given an arbitrary set of points on a plane. This problem has a divide and conquer algorithm and often is used in algorithms classes to illustrate the divide and conquer paradigm.

I also intend to do the same, but I would like to begin with some comments on why this algorithm is useful. Are there any interesting examples I can use here? A google search reveals nothing.

This is for an introductory algorithms course, and the audience is not expected to be an expert on this topic and has a mediocre level of mathematical maturity.

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    $\begingroup$ Introducing neighbors to each other? Picking up stranded people in a disaster? $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2019 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


Rosen, Discrete Mathematics and its Applications, Sec. 8.3, says:

This problem arises in many applications such as determining the closest pair of airplanes in the air space at a particular altitude being managed by an air traffic controller.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to CSE Stack Exchange. Great first answer! $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2019 at 22:51

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