Professor Caesar wishes to develop a matrix-multiplication algorithm that is asymptotically faster than Strassen's algorithm. His algorithm will use the divide-and-conquer method, dividing each matrix into pieces of size $n/4 \times n/4$, and the divide and combine steps together will take $\Theta(n^2)$ time. He needs to determine how many subproblems his algorithm has to create in order to beat Strassen's algorithm. If his algorithm creates $a$ subproblems, then the recurrence for the running time $T(n)$ becomes $T(n) = aT(n/4) + \Theta(n^2)$. What is the largest integer value of $a$ for which Professor Caesar's algorithm would be asymptotically faster than Strassen's algorithm?

To fall in third case of the master theorem, we need to have $a < 16$. In that case, the algorithm will be $T(n) = \Theta(n^2)$. For the second case, with $a = 16$, $T(n) = \Theta(n^2 \log n)$. In the first case of the master theorem, to be faster than Strassen, we need $\log_4{a} < \log_{2}7$, which is $a < 7^2 = 49$. Thus, the largest integer value will be $48$.