How to Solve the Nuts and Bolts Problem

What is the Nuts and Bolts Problem and how can it be solved?

The nuts and bolts problem involves matching bolts of different widths with corresponding nuts. Is there a specific algorithm to efficiently solve this problem?


The nuts and bolts problem can be solved using a simple comparison algorithm with a time complexity of O(n²). This involves a comparison of each bolt with each nut; categorizing them as 'too small', 'exact match', or 'too large'; and then merging these categorized piles accordingly.

The nuts and bolts problem is a classic problem in computer science where the goal is to match each bolt to its corresponding nut. The challenge lies in the fact that the sizes of the nuts and bolts are different, and there is no direct way to compare them visually.

To solve this problem efficiently, an algorithm with a time complexity of O(n²) can be used. This algorithm involves comparing each bolt with each nut and categorizing them based on their relationship. Here is a step-by-step explanation of the algorithm:

  1. For each bolt in the bolts collection, do the following:
    • For each nut in the nuts collection, do the following:
      • Compare the bolt with the nut.
      • If the bolt is bigger, put the nut in the 'too small' pile.
      • If the bolt is smaller, put the nut in the 'too large' pile.
      • If they are a match, put the nut in the 'matches' pile and move on to the next bolt in the bolt collection.
  2. Continue this process until all nuts and bolts have been categorized.
  3. The final step involves merging the 'too small', 'matches', and 'too large' piles accordingly, based on the comparison results of each nut and bolt.

This algorithm ensures that each bolt is matched with its corresponding nut efficiently, addressing the nuts and bolts problem effectively.

← Understanding shear stress on major principal plane Railway sleepers functions and importance →