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SRM 121
Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Problems

ConvertBase  discuss it
Used as: Division-II, Level 1:
Value 250 points
Submission Rate 148 / 198 (74.75%)
Success Rate 72 / 148 (45.68%)
High Score goongas for 244.10 points
Average Points 175.94

This one's actually a bit tricky if you don't know how to do it. While C++ has functions for turning a base-N string into an int, it doesn't have one for the other way around. I don't know about the other languages, but I presume they're much the same. The trick to this one is that it's much easier to generate the string backwards than it is to generate it forwards. You want to take the number and extract the smallest digit (using modulus), adding that digit to your string. Then divide the number by the radix, basically pushing the smallest digit off the bottom, and repeat until it reaches 0. Reverse the string and return it. There's a pair of special cases you need to look out for - if the number is negative, you'll need to add a - on the beginning (or the end, before you reverse it.) Also, if the number is 0, you'll have to do that manually. A function for doing base 2 through 10 would look like

string convert( int x, int radix ) {
 if( x == 0 )
  return "0";
 bool isnegative;
 if( x < 0 ) {
  isnegative = true;
 } else {
  isnegative = false;
 string accumulator;
 while( x != 0 ) {
  accumulator += ( x % radix ) + '0';
  x = x / radix;
 if( isnegative )
  accumulator += '-';
 reverse( accumulator );
 return accumulator;

or something similar. Obviously this won't handle 11 and up, but that's a matter of doing something just a little more complex than ( x % radix ) + '0'; - personally I'd make a small function to return the character representation of a specific digit.

TicTacToe3D  discuss it
Used as: Division-II, Level 2 & Division-I, Level 1:
Div-II stats
Value 500 points
Submission Rate 106 / 198 (53.56%)
Success Rate 83 / 106 (78.30%)
High Score Anguissette for 499.04 points
Average Points 363.37

Div-I stats
Value 250 points
Submission Rate 76 / 90 (84.44%)
Success Rate 74 / 76 (97.37%)
High Score ZorbaTHut for 249.23 points
Average Points 207.33

Yeah. Just look at those high scores. I did one of them and I still don't believe it.

Visualize a cube. It's N units wide on each side. We have N Xs to use, and we need to span the entire cube. Obviously we're going to be barely reaching from one side to the other on every single one.

Now, first we've got the pure straight lines, reaching from one face to the opposing face. There are 6 faces on a cube, but we ignore half of them, because any line is going to be touching two. On each face we can start at N^2 locations (since the face is, after all, square). So that's n * n * 3.

Then we've got diagonal lines, reaching from one edge to the opposing edge. A cube has 12 edges (four on the top, four on the bottom, four in the middle) and once again, we're going to be using two of them for each line. Each edge has N locations we can start at. n * 6.

Last, there are the really-diagonal lines (for lack of a better term), reaching from one corner to the opposing corner. A cube has eight corners (four on the top, four on the bottom) and again, each line touches two of them. Let's just add 4 here.

We end up with the equation 4 + n * 6 + n * n * 3, which works in every situation but the one where it's a 1x1x1 cube. That one's a special case, so just test for it and return 1.

And that's the entire solution. I solved it quickly because I'd been thinking about it from the 2001 invitational - it was an efficiency deal in that case, not a calculation - and I happened to remember it. I'd be surprised if Anguissette didn't do the same thing, and rather impressed, actually.

NumCombine  discuss it
Used as: Division-II, Level 3 & Division-I, Level 2:
Div-II stats
Value 250 points
Submission Rate 28 / 198 (14.14%)
Success Rate 8 / 28 (28.57%)
High Score ishan_ritchie for 651.57 points
Average Points 548.15

Div-I stats
Value 500 points
Submission Rate 49 / 90 (54.44%)
Success Rate 31 / 49 (63.27%)
High Score Yarin for 468.28 points
Average Points 334.08

This problem was one of those that's very easy to overcomplicate, as well as being quite easy to undercomplicate. You can easily generate every possible string and then parse it out and calculate it - unfortunately you'll time out on the parsing, unless you do it extremely efficiently. The best solution (I believe) is to write a recursive function with four parameters - the digit you're currently looking at, an accumulator for the running total, another accumulator for the current number you're creating, and a sign multiplier, used for making the next operation positive or negative. The base case for your recursive function is when it's finished with all the digits. It should add the current-number times the sign multiplier to the running total, compare it to the target, and increment your global counter if the test works. Otherwise, you've got three cases - "continue with this number", "add this number and start the next one positive", and "add this number and start the next one negative". Take a look at Yarin's solution for a good example of this, or mine if you ignore the minor logic problem (the test is <=, not <, and the examples didn't catch it. Not my finest moment.)

The only other thing to watch out for is to make sure you have 64-bit integers in the important places, since the Big Number can be up to 15 digits long, and a 32-bit number can overflow at 10.

Some people might think that the "sign" variable in the recursive function isn't necessary, since you can just choose positive-or-negative when you add it to the accumulator. However, if you don't keep track of the sign, you have the new (and slightly harder) problem of making sure you don't accidentally subtract the first number instead of adding it - you're not given a choice on this one.

LinAlg  discuss it
Used as: Division-I Level 3:
Div-II stats
Value 1000 points
Submission Rate 19 / 90 (21.11%)
Success Rate 1 / 19 (5.26%)
High Score Yarin for 675.25 points

It probably says something when the only person who solves a problem is someone who had the code prewritten, and they *still* only got about two-thirds of the maximum value. On the other hand, a lot of the carnage on this problem was caused by a problem description that only stated "whitespace". Most of the time the problems only specify the space character, and in fact, getting any other whitespace character into the testing window takes a little doing. However, this is exactly what lars did, providing a testcase that included a tab character, and probably accounting for a good half of the submission failures.

Anyone who's taken linear algebra will recognize this, and probably know how to do it. As I did horribly at linear algebra, I'm probably not the right one to be explaining this. But here goes anyway.

Your first step should be to get the equations into a standard format - 2x + 3y + -4z = 9, where all the variables are on one side and the constant is on the other side. While annoying, this isn't hard - split the equation at the = point, parse them both into some handy data structure, and basically subtract one from the other, then invert the constant. (Actually, for the purposes of this problem you really don't have to invert the constant, but I'm explaining this in terms of actually solving the problem.)

At this point you'd want to turn it into a matrix. Use one column for each variable, as well as one for the constant, and one row for each equation. From here you want to choose a single row with a value in the first column, swap it with whatever's in the top row, and subtract it from all the other rows below it however many times is necessary to zero out their first column. Repeat this with the second column and a new row (moving it to the second-to-top row) and so on, for all except the last column (the "constant" column). This is an oversimplification, unfortunately, there's a lot of subtlety that you could use for picking which rows. Plus you might find that you don't have any remaining rows with a value in that column - but in that case, you can just return 10, since that means an infinite number of results.

Once you've done all those processes, you also want to look through the rest of the rows. Each row will have all its variables 0, but if there's a nonzero constant (representing something on the order of "0 = 15") obviously there are no solutions, and return 0.

If you've gotten past both of these tests, there's only one solution. Return 1.

As for a proof for why this works, that's beyond me - that's linear algebra, and I don't feel like reproving matrix math ;) There are plenty of websites around, and if you're interested - it's a large subject, and has a lot of ramifications in geometry also - take a class in it. But I'm not going to say much more about it.

The only thing I *am* going to say is that I've been cheerfully mentioning a "matrix". I haven't really talked about what data type it should be. It's probably telling that Yarin used a fraction class with long longs. I suspect you could pull it off with long double and appropriate epsilon constants, but I'm not sure. This is the sort of thing that could easily destabilize and blow your integers completely out of bounds, and only the low factors (-10 to 10) made it possible with long longs.

This is why I have a prebuilt fraction class, and why I'm going to write a bigint class one of these days. Those of you who actually *have* bigint classes in your language libraries . . . learn to use them!

By ZorbaTHut
TopCoder Member