Find the number of valid parentheses expressions of given length


Given a number n find the number of valid parentheses expressions of that length.

Input: 2
Output: 1 
There is only possible valid expression of length 2, "()"

Input: 4
Output: 2 
Possible valid expression of length 4 are "(())" and "()()" 

Input: 6
Output: 5
Possible valid expressions are ((())), ()(()), ()()(), (())() and (()())

This is mainly an application of Catalan Numbers. Total possible valid expressions for input n is n/2’th Catalan Number if n is even and 0 if n is odd.

Following is C++ implementation of the above idea.

// C++ program to find valid paranthesisations of length n
// The majority of code is taken from method 3 of 
using namespace std;

// Returns value of Binomial Coefficient C(n, k)
unsigned long int binomialCoeff(unsigned int n, unsigned int k)
    unsigned long int res = 1;

    // Since C(n, k) = C(n, n-k)
    if (k > n - k)
        k = n - k;

    // Calculate value of [n*(n-1)*---*(n-k+1)] / [k*(k-1)*---*1]
    for (int i = 0; i < k; ++i)
        res *= (n - i);
        res /= (i + 1);

    return res;

// A Binomial coefficient based function to find nth catalan
// number in O(n) time
unsigned long int catalan(unsigned int n)
    // Calculate value of 2nCn
    unsigned long int c = binomialCoeff(2*n, n);

    // return 2nCn/(n+1)
    return c/(n+1);

// Function to find possible ways to put balanced parenthesis
// in an expression of length n
unsigned long int findWays(unsigned n)
    // If n is odd, not possible to create any valid parentheses
    if (n & 1) return 0;

   // Otherwise return n/2'th Catalan Numer
   return catalan(n/2);

// Driver program to test above functions
int main()
    int n = 6;
    cout << "Total possible expressions of length "
         << n << " is " << findWays(6);
    return 0;


Total possible expressions of length 6 is 5

Time Complexity: O(n)

This article is contributed by Sachin. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above

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