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Matrix chain multiplication is an optimization problem that can be solved using dynamic programming. Given a sequence of matrices, the goal is to find the most efficient way to multiply these matrices. The problem is not actually to perform the multiplications, but merely to decide the sequence of the matrix multiplications involved.

Here are many options because matrix multiplication is associative. In other words, no matter how the product is parenthesized, the result obtained will remain the same. For example, for four matrices A, B, C, and D, we would have:

((AB)C)D = ((A(BC))D) = (AB)(CD) = A((BC)D) = A(B(CD)).

However, the order in which the product is parenthesized affects the number of simple arithmetic operations needed to compute the product, or the efficiency.
For example,
if A is a 10 × 30 matrix, B is a 30 × 5 matrix, and C is a 5 × 60 matrix, then computing (AB)C needs (10×30×5) + (10×5×60) = 1500 + 3000 = 4500 operations, while computing A(BC) needs (30×5×60) + (10×30×60) = 9000 + 18000 = 27000 operations.

Clearly the first method is more efficient. With this information, the problem statement can be refined as "how to determine the optimal parenthesization of a product of n matrices?" Checking each possible parenthesization (brute force) would require a run-time that is exponential in the number of matrices, which is very slow and impractical for large n. A quicker solution to this problem can be achieved by breaking up the problem into a set of related subproblems. By solving subproblems once and reusing the solutions, the required run-time can drastically reduced. 

The following bottom-up approach [1] computes, for each 2 ≤ k ≤ n, the minimum costs of all subsequences of length k, using the costs of smaller subsequences already computed. It has the same asymptotic runtime and requires no recursion.


// Matrix A[i] has dimension dims[i-1] x dims[i] for i = 1..n
MatrixChainOrder(int dims[])
    // length[dims] = n + 1
    n = dims.length - 1;
    // m[i,j] = Minimum number of scalar multiplications (i.e., cost)
    // needed to compute the matrix A[i]A[i+1]...A[j] = A[i..j]
    // The cost is zero when multiplying one matrix
    for (i = 1; i <= n; i++)
        m[i, i] = 0;

    for (len = 2; len <= n; len++) { // Subsequence lengths
        for (i = 1; i <= n - len + 1; i++) {
            j = i + len - 1;
            m[i, j] = MAXINT;
            for (k = i; k <= j - 1; k++) {
                cost = m[i, k] + m[k+1, j] + dims[i-1]*dims[k]*dims[j];
                if (cost < m[i, j]) {
                    m[i, j] = cost;
                    s[i, j] = k; // Index of the subsequence split that achieved minimal cost