Home Practice Programming Find all possible subset of a given set

Find all possible subset of a given set

Given a set (of n elements), Print all possible subset (2^n) of this set.
Example: Set = {a,b,c}, Power set of S, P(S) = {Φ, {a}, {b}, {c}, {a,b}, {b,c}, {a,c}, {a,b,c}} 

Note: A set of n elements will have 2^n elements in its power set.

We will use the concept of binary number here. Given n bits, 2^n binary numbers are possible. Each element of a given set will be represented by a single bit. An element will be chosen for the power-set only if its corresponding bit is one.

Example: S={a,b,c}; n = 3; 2^n = 2^3 = 8
    a is represented by 0th bit (Least significant bit)
    b is represented by 1st bit
    c is represented by 2nd bit (Most Significant bit)
    0 ->  000 -  empty set
    1 ->  001 -  {a}
    2 ->  010 -  {b}
    3 ->  011 -  {a,b}
    4 ->  100 -  {c}
    5 ->  101 -  {c,a}
    6 ->  110 -  {b,c}
    7 ->  111 -  {a,b,c}


find_subset(set, set_size){
    n = power(2,set_size);
    for(i=0; i<n; i++){
       //j will run set_size times to check each bit
       for(j=0; j<set_size; j++)
         if(current bit is 1(set))
             print(corresponding set element)

Implementation of the above algorithm in CPP

#include <bits/stdc++.h>
using namespace std;

int find_subsets(string str, int size){

	int n = pow(2,size);

    //binary counter running from 0 to 2^n -1 
	for(int i=0; i<n; i++){ 
		cout<<"{ ";
		//this loop will run n time to check each of the n bits
		for(int j=0; j<size; j++){
			//check if the jth bit is one and if it is set(one), print corresponding element
		cout<<" }"<<endl;
	return 0;

int main()
	string str = "abcd";
	find_subsets(str, str.size());
	return 0;


{  }
{ a }
{ b }
{ ab }
{ c }
{ ac }
{ bc }
{ abc }
{ d }
{ ad }
{ bd }
{ abd }
{ cd }
{ acd }
{ bcd }
{ abcd }

Time complexity

The time complexity of the above program is O(n*2^n), where n is the number of elements in the set.
The first loop that runs through powerset( 2^set_size) has complexity 2^n and the nested loop, which runs n(set size) times to check if each of n elements is one has complexity n.


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