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Strassen's Matrix Multiplication


Strassen's algorithm, developed by Volker Strassen in 1969, is a fast algorithm for matrix multiplication. It is an efficient divide-and-conquer method that reduces the number of arithmetic operations required to multiply two matrices compared to the conventional matrix multiplication algorithm (the naive approach).

The traditional matrix multiplication algorithm has a time complexity of O(n^3) for multiplying two n x n matrices. However, Strassen's algorithm improves this to O(n^log2(7)), which is approximately O(n^2.81). The algorithm achieves this improvement by recursively breaking down the matrix multiplication into smaller subproblems and combining the results.

Algorithm working As below:

Given two matrices A and B, of size n x n, we divide each matrix into four equal-sized submatrices, each of size n/2 x n/2.

A = | A11 A12 | B = | B11 B12 |

| A21 A22 | | B21 B22 |

We then define seven intermediate matrices:

P1 = A11 * (B12 - B22)

P2 = (A11 + A12) * B22

P3 = (A21 + A22) * B11

P4 = A22 * (B21 - B11)

P5 = (A11 + A22) * (B11 + B22)

P6 = (A12 - A22) * (B21 + B22)

P7 = (A11 - A21) * (B11 + B12)

Next, we recursively compute seven products of these submatrices, i.e., P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6, and P7.

Finally, we combine the results to obtain the four submatrices of the resulting matrix C of size n x n:

C11 = P5 + P4 - P2 + P6

C12 = P1 + P2

C21 = P3 + P4

C22 = P5 + P1 - P3 - P7

Concatenate the four submatrices C11, C12, C21, and C22 to obtain the final result matrix C.

The efficiency of Strassen's algorithm comes from the fact that it reduces the number of recursive calls, which means fewer multiplication operations are needed overall. However, due to its higher constant factors and increased overhead, Strassen's algorithm is sometimes slower than the naive algorithm for small matrices or practical implementations. For huge matrices, it can provide a significant speedup. Additionally, further optimized algorithms like Coppersmith-Winograd algorithm have been developed to improve matrix multiplication even more, especially for huge matrices.

Example code:



Matrix A:
[1, 2]
[3, 4]

Matrix B:
[5, 6]
[7, 8]

Resultant Matrix (A * B):
[19, 22]
[43, 50]


The above Java code implements Strassen's matrix multiplication algorithm, which is a more efficient method for multiplying two matrices than the traditional method. Let's break down the code and discuss its working, time complexity, space complexity, and the special mention of Strassen's matrix multiplication.

Working of Code:

The multiplication function takes two input matrices, A and B, as 2D arrays and returns the result of their multiplication as a new 2D array result.

If the size of the matrices is 1x1, the function performs the multiplication directly and stores the result in result[0][0].

Otherwise, it divides matrices A and B into four sub-matrices A11, A12, A21, A22, B11, B12, B21, and B22.

Using these sub-matrices, the algorithm recursively calculates seven intermediate matrices P1 to P7.

Finally, it merges the calculated sub-matrices to form the resultant matrix result.

Time Complexity:

The time complexity of Strassen's matrix multiplication algorithm is O(n^log2(7)), which is approximately O(n^2.81).

The algorithm's complexity is better than the traditional matrix multiplication's O(n^3) for large matrices.

Space Complexity:

The space complexity of Strassen's algorithm is O(n^2) because it creates multiple intermediate matrices of size n/2 x n/2 during each recursive call.

Special Mention- Strassen's Matrix Multiplication:

Strassen's matrix multiplication is an innovative divide-and-conquer algorithm that reduces the multiplications needed to multiply two matrices.

It divides the matrices into smaller sub-matrices and recursively calculates seven products instead of the traditional eight.

It performs better for large matrices using fewer multiplications, making it useful in various applications such as image processing, scientific simulations, and numerical computations.


  1. Improved Time Complexity: Strassen's algorithm has a lower time complexity of around O(n^2.81) than standard matrix multiplication with O(n3). Strassen's approach gets substantially quicker as the size of the matrices increases, making it more efficient for large-scale matrix multiplication.
  2. Reduced Multiplications: Strassen's algorithm executes just seven multiplications for each recursive step compared to the traditional method's eight multiplications. It leads to fewer processing steps and improves performance by lowering the number of fundamental operations.
  3. Strassen's technique employs a divide-and-conquer strategy, breaking the matrix multiplication issue into smaller sub-problems. This allows for parallelism and can be effectively implemented on parallel computing architectures, accelerating the computation for large matrices.
  4. Space Efficiency: Strassen's algorithm reduces the memory requirements by using smaller sub-matrices during the recursive steps. Although it introduces additional matrices, they are smaller than the original matrices, leading to better space efficiency.
  5. Faster Asymptotic Growth: Strassen's algorithm's time complexity grows more slowly with increasing matrix size, making it highly advantageous for large matrices. The algorithm's improved efficiency becomes more pronounced as the matrix dimensions increase.
  6. Algorithmic Advancements: Strassen's algorithm has paved the way for further research and development in faster matrix multiplication algorithms. This has led to more sophisticated methods like the Coppersmith-Winograd algorithm, which offers even better time complexities for large matrices.
  7. Scientific and Engineering Applications: Strassen's algorithm extensively uses scientific simulations, engineering simulations, and computational physics. These applications often involve massive matrices, where Strassen's method significantly speeds up computations.
  8. Parallel Processing: The divide-and-conquer nature of Strassen's algorithm makes it amenable to parallel processing. It can exploit parallelism when implemented on multi-core processors or GPUs, leading to further speed improvements.
  9. Matrix Inversion and Solving Systems of Equations: Strassen's algorithm has applications beyond matrix multiplication, such as matrix inversion and solving systems of linear equations. Its efficient performance benefits these related operations as well.
  10. Training and Education: Strassen's algorithm is an essential topic in computer science and applied mathematics courses, showcasing the effectiveness of divide-and-conquer strategies and algorithmic optimization techniques.
  11. Hardware and Energy Efficiency: Strassen's algorithm can benefit specific specialized hardware and architectures due to its reduced multiplications and improved cache utilization, leading to better energy efficiency and overall performance.
  12. Numerical Stability: For specific matrices with large entries, traditional matrix multiplication can suffer from numerical instability, leading to potential loss of precision. Due to its reduced number of operations, Strassen's algorithm can offer improved numerical stability for some scenarios.
  13. Applications in Scientific Computing: Strassen's matrix multiplication finds applications in scientific simulations, linear algebra operations, and other areas involving large matrices. It is advantageous in solving systems of linear equations, computing eigenvectors and eigenvalues, and fast Fourier transforms.
  14. Algorithmic Advancements: Strassen's algorithm has paved the way for further research and development in faster matrix multiplication algorithms. Although more advanced algorithms like Coppersmith-Winograd exist, Strassen's method remains a fundamental building block for these approaches.


  1. Recursive Overhead: The algorithm's recursive nature introduces overhead due to multiple recursive calls and the creation of intermediate matrices. The overhead can outweigh the benefits of reduced multiplications for very small matrices, making the standard algorithm more efficient.
  2. Non-Power-of-Two Matrix Size: Strassen's algorithm requires the matrix size to be a power of two (2^n x 2^n). If the input matrices do not meet this condition, padding with zeros is necessary, which can lead to additional computational overhead.
  3. Addition and Subtraction Overhead: While Strassen's algorithm reduces the number of multiplications, it increases the number of additions and subtractions, which can still contribute to computational costs.
  4. Increased Memory Usage: The algorithm creates additional sub-matrices during recursion, increasing memory usage compared to the standard matrix multiplication. This can concern huge matrices or when memory is limited.
  5. Numerical Precision: Strassen's algorithm may suffer from numerical instability for matrices with extremely large or small values. The accumulation of rounding errors during addition and subtraction operations can lead to a loss of precision.
  6. Crossover Point: There is a "crossover point" beyond which Strassen's algorithm becomes faster than the standard matrix multiplication. The crossover point depends on hardware, matrix size, and implementation details. For smaller matrices, traditional methods may be more efficient.
  7. Cache Inefficiency: The recursive nature of Strassen's algorithm may lead to sub-matrices that need to fit more efficiently into the processor's cache, resulting in cache misses and slower memory access times.
  8. Not Always Optimal: While Strassen's algorithm improves the complexity for large matrices, there are more efficient methods. Specialized algorithms like Coppersmith-Winograd may outperform Strassen's algorithm for specific matrix configurations and hardware architectures.
  9. Limited Parallelism: While Strassen's algorithm allows for some parallelism, it may only partially utilize multi-core processors or GPUs, especially for smaller matrices where the parallelization overhead dominates the performance gains.
  10. Higher Constant Factors: Despite its improved asymptotic complexity, Strassen's algorithm may have higher constant factors than the traditional method. This means that for smaller matrix sizes, the additional overhead introduced by the algorithm may outweigh its theoretical advantages, making it less efficient in such cases.
  11. Complex Implementation: Implementing Strassen's algorithm correctly and efficiently can be more challenging than the standard matrix multiplication. The recursive nature of the algorithm and the need to handle matrices of non-power-of-two sizes require careful coding, potentially making the implementation more complex and error-prone.


In conclusion, Strassen's matrix multiplication algorithm presents a more efficient approach for the multiplication of large matrices with its reduced time complexity of approximately O(n^2.81) compared to the traditional O(n^3) method. It offers benefits such as decreased multiplications, improved memory efficiency with smaller sub-matrices, and potential for parallelization. However, Strassen's algorithm introduces recursive overhead and requires power-of-two matrix sizes. Choosing between methods depends on matrix size, hardware, and precision needs. While Strassen's algorithm excels with large matrices, it complements a range of applications in scientific computing and numerical simulations.

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