Category Archives: Algorithms

To sit or 2-SAT

Yeah yeah yeah – lame title. But I just can’t help it 😉

Here we are going to discuss Satisfiability (or SAT) and especially 2-SAT based problems. SAT problems refer to checking if the following kinds of boolean formulae are satisfiable.

\neg(x \vee \neg z \vee (\neg w \vee x)) \vee (x \wedge \neg y)

However, since the above is too general to represent with a data-structure, we typically reduce such formulae into the Causal Normal Form  (CNF) as shown –

(\ldots \vee \ldots \vee \ldots \vee \ldots)\wedge \ldots \wedge(\ldots \vee \ldots \vee \ldots \vee \ldots)

Read here if you want to know how to convert any formula to a CNF. Each sub-formula which is joined by \wedge is called a clause and each variable a literal. We know that the satisfiability of CNF composed of clauses with more than 2 literals is NP Hard. These are represented as 3-SAT, 4-SAT etc. We will only explore the satisfiability of 2-CNF. An example 2-CNF is (\neg x \vee y) \wedge ( y \vee z) \wedge (x \vee \neg z) \wedge (z \vee \neg y)

Solving 2-SAT

2-SAT problems are polynomial time decidable. The problem can be modelled as a graph problem. We will have two vertices for each literal. One vertex represents x and the other \neg x .

Now we add an edge from x and y iff we have a clause of the form (\neg x \vee y)

Hence for every 2-SAT clause, we will have two edges one for (x \vee y) and another for (y \vee x) . Since we require a clause of the form (\neg x \vee y) to create an edge, we will change (x \vee y) to (\neg (\neg x) \vee y) and draw an edge from \neg x to y and another edge \neg y to x .


The edges represent a ‘If Then’ relationship. A condition like (x \vee y) can be re-written as –

if not x then y
else if NOT Y then X

This is precisely what we represent when we add an edge. We add an edge for each of the IF conditions.

Taking (\neg x \vee y) \wedge ( y \vee z) \wedge (x \vee \neg z) \wedge (z \vee \neg y) as an example, here is how the edges can be drawn out.

To figure out if the given 2-CNF is satisfiable, we just need to check if there is a path from \neg x to x (similarly for y and z). You can do this via a DFS or a BFS. A faster way is to check for component Components. If \neg x to x (similarly for y and z) lie in the same component, it isn’t satisfiable.

One other way (and quicker to code) is to use Floyd-Warshall. It is quick to write and easy to remember.

Here is a problem for practice: SRM 464 – Div 1 – 550.

The trick is to create a 2-CNF where we add a clause everytime we cannot add a pair of vertices (A, B). The clause will take the form  – NOT (A AND B) or in a CNF form – (NOT A OR NOT B).

I hope you found this useful!


Greatest Hits – Side A

I didn’t realize that almost a year has gone by and I haven’t updated my blog. With a lot of free time on my hand now, its time to conjure up another post! I wanted to write this one for some time now but I just haven’t found the strength to punch the keys (and trust me, it takes quite a lot of effort).

Like I mentioned, I have a lot of free time now and I decided to go back to doing something I always loved – solving problems on Topcoder. So I started the Arena, logged in (I was surprised I could still remember my password) and went straight to SRM 411 Div 2. It was a problem set I had already solved and I wanted my first practice contest in almost 10 months to be easy. Well – it wasn’t! I thought I coded the 250 right but the tests revealed that I missed the easiest edge cases. It took me a lot of thinking and a little searching to finally figure out how to do the 600 and the 900 was a bit easy on the mind but impossible to code! I  compared this against my performance the last time around and the contest was like that between me and Petr on a live SRM!

I am not going to share anything related to this experience though. Just to encourage myself, I am going to look into eternal abyss (actually my memory – things fall in rather quick but never quite make it back when I need it!) and share some problems  (in a never ending Saga) that I was able to solve but which many of my more established peers could not (or so I would like to think), during a live contest!

TCO 2012 Round 2A – 300:

[Problem Statement] [My Submission]

Don’t be fooled just because its a 300 point problem. This problem saw over 800 submission but only 38% passed! Also, this is Round 2, so there are hardly any rookies left and I remember a large number of red coders failing the system test. Maybe it was a 300 point problem and people took it lightly. But I knew, I could only solve this one, since the 450 and 1000 were bit on the harder side for me!

The only reason I was able to solve this problem was that I had just learnt how to solve problems involving bi-partite matching (just the easy ones though). And when you have learnt a new technique, suddenly every problem fits the bill and you can see a bipartite graph in every problem. Fortunately, it was true for this problem.

First thing to notice was that if it was not a bipartite graph, there was no solution possible as the system would be inconsistent. Also, if there was no matching possible on this graph for any vertex, then again the system would be inconsistent (Notice that if one switch does not have an associated lamp, then either one switch is connected to two lamps or there is a lamp without a switch). However, this turned out to be the easy part!

I tried a lot of different simple techniques to figure out the number of experiments I would need but everything had one flaw or another. It was in the dying minutes of the contest that I jumped up with ‘Eureka’! What I realized was that lets say there is a set of switches A which can be mapped to another set of lamps B (note: n(A) always equals n(B)). Then the number of experiments needed is log(n(A)).

Why? Lets say the system had 4 switches and lamps. Then if I switch on 2 and switch off 2, in one experiment I would have identified 2 switches and their respective lamps. Now I have two groups of 2 sets each. Notice that they are independent of each other (experimenting on one does not affect the result of another – which means that in one experiment I can set the states of switches and figure everything out!). If I repeat this again then in 2 experiments I would have the answer for these 4 sets of switches and lamps. The property that experiments are independent meant that if you identified all such groups and figured out what is the largest number of experiments needed to solve any of the groups, that would be your final answer.

Google Code Jam 2011 Round 2 C. Expensive Dinner

[Problem Statement] [My Solution]

This problem is a source of both happiness and sorrow. Happiness – because I figured out how to solve it; sorrow- because I got lazy in implementing it and the hard cases broke this code. If I hadn’t been lazy, I would have qualified for Round 3 which would have been a moment of great pride. I did end up in the top 1000 for which they sent me a nice GCJ t-shirt but alas – the wrong size!

When is the waiter called: everytime the LCM of first K numbers is not equal to the LCM of first K-1 numbers. This is the most important observation.
The problem statement asks us to find two permutations of first N numbers A and B such that A results in the smallest number of waiter calls and B in the largest. Just by looking at the test cases you can figure out that the largest way is to keep the numbers in sorted order. But what is this value? It turns out this is the sum of the largest power of prime number such that it is less than equal N.

How? Consider first 10 numbers. When 1 comes in, he will call. So will 2 and so will 3. At this point the LCM is 6. But when 4 comes in, he will need to multiply the LCM by 2 so even he will have to call. So will 5, but when 6 comes in, he does not have to since 2 and 3 have already taken care of his needs! 7 will again call and so will 8 (since we need another factor of 2 to satisfy the condition) and 9 (factor of 3 this time). But when 10 comes in, he will not need it. So the total calls here is 8 – which is 1 (1^1) + 3 (for 2^3)) + 2 ( for 3^2) + 1 ( for 5^1) + 1 ( for 7^1) = 8.

What is the smallest such possibility? Simple, if the largest power of a prime, comes first he will ensure that none of the other factors need to be called. In essence, the number of prime numbers less than equals to N. But instead of doing these seperately, you can do this in one loop by reducing by 1, the value you find in the above explanation.

Just to point out where I blundered: When calculating the largest power I used log function. While mathematically there is nothing wrong with it, in practice log has an error associated with it which is greatly magnified with larger numbers. Not that I did not know this when I was implementing it, just that I got bloody lazy!

Any hoot, we all learn from mistakes and so did I!
Do try solving these problems on your own and let me know how that went!

I almost forgot – to my ardent fans – A Very Happy New Year! That’s it for now!

Linear Recurrences

How often has it happened to you in a programming contest (or elsewhere) that you thought it was impossible to solve it faster than O(N) and yet the limits imposed suggest that it has to be done faster. Well, if not all, atleast a majority of them have a solution based on the idea of linear recurrences. In this blog post, I intend to help you out on this !!

In this post, we are going to do a – Solve and Learn strategy ; You will be given a question and I will show you how to apply  the concepts on them.

TYPE 1 :: The Simplest :

If a post mentions recurrences, then it has to mention Fibonacci (Gosh, if only I had a penny for every mention of Fibo in tutorials. )

The recurrence is of type : F(n) = F(n-1) + F(n-2).

I am pretty sure you know to code the linear version of it which runs in O(N) but can you do it in O(log N) ? If you throw google to good use, you will come up with a solution which says there is a Matrix M which when raised to power N, will give you the N-th fibonacci number. And since you can always exponentiate in logN time, you have your answer. But to those, who wondered if this Matrix is magical- read on!

Firstly the answer- No; Its not magical. How. Lets do a little Algebra (yumm… My favourite! )
F(n)=F(n-1)+F(n-2)\\ \\ F(n+1) =F(n)+F(n-1)\\ \\ F(n+2)=F(n+1)+F(n)

Obviously enough, the value of N-th term, depends on two previous terms (or states). This implies that all values depend on just the first two states in the sequence. As you can see here –

\begin{pmatrix}F(n+2)\\ F(n+1)\end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}1&1\\ 1&0\\ \end{pmatrix}\times\begin{pmatrix}F(n+1)\\ F(n)\end{pmatrix}\\ \\ and\\ \\ \begin{pmatrix}F(n+1)\\ F(n)\end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}1&1\\ 1&0\\ \end{pmatrix} \times \begin{pmatrix}F(n)\\ F(n-1)\end{pmatrix} \\ \\ Hence \\ \\ \begin{pmatrix}F(n+2)\\ F(n+1)\end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}1&1\\ 1&0\\ \end{pmatrix} ^2 \times \begin{pmatrix}F(n)\\ F(n-1)\end{pmatrix} \\ \\ \begin{pmatrix}F(n+2)\\ F(n+1)\end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}1&1\\ 1&0\\ \end{pmatrix}^3 \times \begin{pmatrix}F(n-1)\\ F(n-2)\end{pmatrix}

Hence in General, we may write ::
\begin{pmatrix}F(n)\\ F(n-1)\end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}1&1\\ 1&0\\ \end{pmatrix}^{n-1} \times \begin{pmatrix}1\\ 0\end{pmatrix}

I hope that has helped you in understanding how to frame such equations and solving it with a matrix.

TYPE 2 : Simplest ++

Now that we have a basic understanding. Try the following recurrence :

F(n) = F(n-1) + F(n-2) + F(n-3).

It is the same as the previous recurrence but with an additional state. I won’t go on explaining the hows (again!). I am going to share the solution.
\begin{pmatrix}F(n)\\ F(n-1)\\ F(n-2) \end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}1&1&1\\ 1&0&0\\ 0&1&0 \end{pmatrix}^{n-2} \times \begin{pmatrix}2\\ 1\\ 1\end{pmatrix}

TYPE 3: Simplest << 1

Consider the following scenario ::

G(n) = a . G(n-1) + b . G(n-2) + c . H(n)\\ \\ and \\ \\ H(n)= d . H(n-1) + e . H(n-2)

This one is a lot trickier. First thing to notice is that we will need 4 states in a matrix to fully define the next state. The reason for using 4 and not 3 is that H(n) depends on 2 states and thus we need 2 states (and not just 1) to represent it.

If you carefully write down the LHS matrix and the RHS matrix, then we can frame the solution as . . .

\begin{pmatrix}G(n)\\ G(n-1)\\ H(n+1)\\ H(n) \end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}a&b&c&0\\ 1&0&0&0\\ 0&0&d&e\\ 0&0&1&0 \end{pmatrix}^{n-1} \times \begin{pmatrix}G(1)\\ G(0)\\ H(2)\\ H(1)\end{pmatrix}

TYPE 4 : Ohhh !

The final hurdle can come in the name of a constant. If we add a constant C to the above recurrence we get –

G(n) = a . G(n-1) + b . G(n-2) + c . H(n) + C\\ \\ and \\ \\ H(n)= d . H(n-1) + e . H(n-2)

But to tell you the truth, its not that difficult if your concepts are clean. Now there is another additional state to hold the information about C. The solution will look like –

\begin{pmatrix}G(n)\\ G(n-1)\\ H(n+1)\\ H(n)\\ C \end{pmatrix}=\begin{pmatrix}a&b&c&0&1\\ 1&0&0&0&0\\ 0&0&d&e&0\\ 0&0&1&0&0\\ 0&0&0&0&1 \end{pmatrix}^{n-1} \times \begin{pmatrix}G(1)\\ G(0)\\ H(2)\\ H(1)\\ C\end{pmatrix}

I hope this post lived up to your expectations and I hope it was worth the wait :P. Please feel free to post comments/corrections/improvements to this post to make it really useful.

Return to Roots: Tree 101

What is a Tree :

Tree is a heirarchial arrangement of nodes. From the literal meaning of Tree we know that it has root, branches, fruits and leaves. Well, in Algorithms also, we have a root – which is the origin of the tree. We have branches which connect to smaller trees and we have leaves, which do not have outgoing branches. And as far as the fruits are concern – depending on the complexity of operations that can be perform, we may label the fruits as sweet and sour !

The simplest tree would be a node which branches to exactly one other node, or in other words – a singly Link List. If every node branches to its child and also to its parent, we have a doubly link list. But in this post, we are not going to discuss these.

The next level of trees would be – where a single node may branch out to a maximum of two other nodes. Such a tree is call a binary tree. Binary trees are some of the most widely us datastructures in computers and we are going to discuss them in a series of posts. So lets begin.

One of the most important things to do is : Create a tree.
So what is it that we ne to create one. We will ne to represent the nodes and the links between nodes. And since we ne to connect to a maximum of two nodes, we will have two branches. We shall call these branches – left and right. Also, it will store some data in it. Our tree will be us to just store integers.

We will use the following structure to create it. FYI, everything here is in C++ and not C.

struct NODE {
    int data;
    NODE *left;
    NODE *right;

Now whenever we ne to insert a node, we ne to make sure that there is a fix position at which the node will be insert given its value (Data in the node). Let us follow a simple strategy.
We will insert a node to the left of a ‘Parent node’, if its value is lesser than the value of the Parent, otherwise to the right. The binary trees which use such a strategy are call Binary Search Trees.

The obvious advantage of such a strategy is that we can search for elements in the tree in O(h) time, where h is the height of the tree. Do note that, in general, h does not equal logN. If we could actually have a tree where the height is inde logN, we would call such trees as Balanc Binary Search Trees.

Alright then, lets get our hands dirty with a code that will create the tree for us. The function insert takes as input the root of the tree and the value to be insert and returns the node which contains the data.

NODE * insert(NODE *root, int data) {
    if(root==NULL) {
        return root;
    else {
        while(root!=NULL) {
            if(root->data>data) {
                if(root->left!=NULL) root=root->left;
                else break;
            else {
                if(root->right!=NULL) root=root->right;
                else break;   
        NODE *new_node=new NODE;
        if(root->data > data) {
        else root->right=new_node;
        return new_node;

Another very useful and important property when using the above strategy is, that the INORDER traversal is sort!

Lets backup a bit. What are Traversals. It is like visiting many homes using the roads which connect them. Only that, the homes here are the NODEs and the roads are the links between each node.

There are many traversals but the three us very often are – PreOrder, InOrder and PostOrder.

In PreOrder, you print the current node and then visit its left and then its right children, recursively.
In InOrder, you first visit the left child, once you have return, you print the current value and then visit the right child.
In PostOrder, you visit both your children and then print the current value.

Here is the code snippet for the InOrder traversal (recursive version).

void inorder(NODE *root) {
    if(root!=NULL) {
        printf("%d ",root->data);

You could write an iterative version, where you would simulate the operations in a system stack, using your own stack. The obvious advantage is that you would be saving space (since you would now push as many values as the system would for a function call.)

However, there exists a really beautiful iterative version which does not use a stack. It assumes that two pointers can be check for equality. It is bas on thread trees and it was first written in 1979 by Morris and hence the name!

How does it work.

The only reason we ne a stack is so that we can do the “RETURN” from child nodes to parent nodes. This return is ne only from one node really. Consider a 5 node tree.

                                    /     \
                                   /       \
                                 10        30
                                /   \     
                               /     \
                             5       15

Now our stack would work like this.

1. Push 20.
2. Push 10.
3. Push 5.
4. Pop 5 and print 5.
5. Pop 10 and print 10.
6. Push 15.
7. Pop 15 and print 15.
8. Pop 20 and print 20.
9. Push 30.
10. Pop 30 and print 30.

If I write a non-resursive and non-stack version, my greatest headache would be to go to 20 from 15 (statements 7-8). So we need to link 15 and 20 so that we can go to 20 without problems. But that would mean that we are modifying the tree. Well, we could do it in two steps. First we link the two and in the next step once we have printed 20, we can destroy that link.

                                      / | \
                                     /  |  \
                                   9    |   30
                                  /   \ |   
                                 /     \|
                               5       15

And thus we have the following –

1. SET current as root.
2. if current is not null do –
2.a. if current has no left child, print current , set current as right child and REPEAT 2.
2.b. else goto the rightmost child of current’s left child.
2.b.a. If this is NULL, then link it to current and set current as left child of current and REPEAT 2.
2.b.b. else set the right child to NULL. Print Current. Set current as Current’s right child . REPEAT 2.

As a pseudocode we may write it as –

Morris-InOrder ( root )
current = root
while current != NULL do
	if LEFT(current) == NULL then
	   print current
	else do
	   // set pre to left child of current
	   // find rightmost child of the left child of current
	   while (RIGHT(pre) != NULL  and RIGHT(pre) != current) do
	    //if thus is null, link it to current and set current's left as current
	    if RIGHT(pre) == NULL then
	    // else unlink it, print current and set right child of current as current
	    else do
	       print current

Looks nice aah. Let’s just write the code.

void MorrisInorder(NODE *root) {
    NODE* current,*pre;
    while(current!=NULL) {
        if(current->left==NULL) {
            printf("%d ",current->data);
        else {
            while(pre->right != NULL && pre->right !=current) 
            if(pre->right==NULL) {
            else {
                printf("%d ",current->data);

Now, lets talk about the fruits!

Insert happens in O(h) time. Each of the traversals (recursive and iterative versions using stack) are in O(N) time and O(N) space (system stack or normal stack).

Morris Inorder runs in O(NlogN) time and O(1) space. One could say that it is slower which is true, but the fact that it does not use additional space can be a huge boost in situations where you are low on system memory!

The entire code is available on :PASTEBIN
I hope you gathered all that info well! I will post a Tree 102, in which I shall discuss the delete operation and talk more about balanced trees!



The cheapest, fastest and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there.
                                                                                                                                                  -Gordon Bell

I am back with a new post. And this time its about one of my favourite algorithms (Yes, as a geek I am allowed to have fav algos 😛 ) – Quick Sort ! Whats so special about it – It is amazingly simple and very clearly complex. Quick sort can be implemented as horribly as follows –

void quicksort(int *x,int l,int u)
	int i,j,t;
		do i++; while(i<=u && x[i]<t);
		do j--;while(x[j]>t );

or as simple as

void quicksort(int *x,int l,int u)
	int i,j,t;

But in this post, we are not going to see its looks but rather we are going to explore its performance (real beauty).
Anyone who attended a class on ‘Algorithms and Data-structures’ or had the pleasure of learning it on your own (like me) knows that Quick Sort runs in O(nlogn) expected average time. Its a known fact that for any given quick-sort (standard implementation) there exists a case which will ensure that it runs in O(n^2) time (even for the purely randomized version. If you don’t know about it, feel free to comment at the bottom and I will let the secret out 😛 ) .

But what if I wanted to find the average expected time. I know there exists a mathematical derivation using Expectation and it shows that it is nlogn but what if I wanted to find out the exact number of comparisons made on the average. We are going to make an attempt on that.

Before we do that, we should take a minute to observe that there are two variables on which quicksort’s performance can be measured. One is the Number of SWAPS made and the second is the Number of Comparisons. We must select the variable which has the most impact in reducing its complexity. In this post I am using Comparisons over Swaps, Why? Simple because, the impact of a comparison is more than the impact of a Swap. How to prove it? Simple- Write a piece of CODE! (I will post the code a little later)

We will just add a new counter before the comparison inside the loop and when the sort exits, we will have the exact count of the comparisons made.

void quicksort(int *x,int l,int u)
	int i,j,t;

A very basic optimization would be to add it outside the loop as shown.

void quicksort(int *x,int l,int u)
	int i,j,t;

It is still slow and I want to speed it up. Is there any way I can get rid of that for loop. Actually, YES. I can remove it clearly. I know you are throwing away your thinking hat saying that -” WHAT WILL YOU SORT ? AND IF YOU AREN’T SORTING ANYTHING WHATS THE POINT ?” Well, you are right. I am not interested in sorting. I am only interested in estimating the time it will take to run on average. To do this, I don’t need to sort any array, I just need to simulate it and to simulate it quicker, I will remove the for loop and everything associated with it.
Now our simulator code looks like this. I have also removed the two variables and replaced it with the length I want to partition.

int quicksort_count(int L)
	int m;
	if(n<=1)return 0;
	return n-1 + quicksort_count(m-1) + quicksort_count(L-m-1);

But, if we want to find the true average, we need to do this for every possible m that may be chosen. Hence we can modify our code to.

double quicksort_avg(int L)
	if(n<=0)return 0;
	double sum=0.0;
	for(int m=1;m<=L;m++)
		sum+=L-1 + quicksort_avg(m-1) + quicksort_avg(L-m);
	return sum/L;

We can improve its runtime by using Dynamic Programming. We could use the Top-Down approach where we store the values that were previously computed in an array and look it up or we could do Bottom-Up and compute the values in increasing order.

double quicksort_avg(int L)
    double dp[L+5];//5 is just taken for safety !
	for(int n=1;n<=L;n++)
        double sum=0.0;
	    for(int m=1;m<=n;m++)
	       	sum+=n-1 + dp[m-1] + dp[n-m];
	return dp[L];

I am still not happy. It is using O(N^2) time which I obviously do not like. It may seem like its impossible to reduce it but in reality that is not the case. For example, if n=5, then the look ups would be :

0 and 5-1
1 and 5-2
2 and 5-3
3 and 5-4
4 and 5-5.

As you can see, I am looking up the same elements twice !
So, I could remove the two lookups and instead multiply it by 2. Also, I can remove the n-1 added every time in the loop (n times to be accurate) and then I divide it by n, leaving me n-1. With those changes, I can convert it to O(N) time.

double quicksort_avg(int L)
    double dp[L+5],sum=0;
    for(int n=1;n<=L;n++)
        dp[n]=n-1  + sum/n;   
    return dp[L];

Even now, I am not happy. ( Its impossible to make me happy, right ?). We can actually improve on the O(N) space, since we are only looking at the previous state. Now, our final piece looks like :

double quicksort_avg(int L)
    double dp,sum=0;
    for(int n=1;n<=L;n++)
        dp=n-1 + sum/n;   
    return dp;

Beautiful isn’t it. In one for-loop using 2 variables, I can actually find out the average comparions made by quicksort for a given length of numbers.

What I (rather Jon Bentley) is trying to show is that – sometimes and almost always we can add functionality by actually removing code! Though this was a pretty small example (and a beautiful example), it seems to explain the idea pretty well.

Do watch the video.

The original video: Three Beautiful QuickSorts


If you are offended by the title, then please SKIP! So, you were caught in the BrainFuck bubble as well. Isn’t it one of the coolest esolangs out there! You might argue – Whats the use of this language. It can’t be used for any REAL software development. Maybe. But as a programmer, it can really strech your boundaries. How? Lets say in C, you had to write a program to print the first five fibonacci numbers (using the logic and not just printing it out), you would code it with your toes. I would too. But think of it in BrainFUCK and you will understand why Urban Muller named it so appropriately.

Here is the Wikilink for it so that you can see the basics of the languange.

In a C version of it, you will need 3 variables – to store the previous value and current value, and one temporary. One more to make sure you only print 5 and not any more , making our count 4 !
Lets look at the code now :

int main()
	int prev=1,curr=1,temp,count;
		printf("%d ",curr);


That was quick.
But even a simple program like this could make you think very hard in BrainFuck. Its fun to know that you have to think to write simpler programs. It makes my blood rush with just the thought of it.

So here goes !
We only have 8 instructions, out of which we will use 7 (since we are not reading anything from the stdin).
You have to think through absolutely every single thing before you so even put a ‘.’ (dot) on the code editor (quite literally).
We need to print SPACE, so we need 32(ASCII of SPACE) in the memory somewhere!.
We need to print number (for simplicities sake, ONE digit numbers) so we need to make sure we have the ASCII values of it, in memory (ASCII of 0 is 48, 1 is 49 and so on..).
If you look at the C code, we will need keep count of the number of items we have remaining to print. And then we need two locations to store previous and current values of the sequence. A very important thing to remember is that all memory is initialized to 0 at the start and we are relying on this for it to work. Also, the looping statements compare the memory location currently being referred (where your current pointer is) to against 0 and if it is true it breaks otherwise loops.

Writing a simple pseudocode (in terms of only Brainf*k) :

Initialize a location A to 32
Initialize a location B to 48
Initialize a location C to 5
Initialize a location D and E to 1.
Set current Location to C.
Start a Loop
	Add B to E and F.
	Print E.
	Subtract B from E
	Add D to E and F
	Copy E to D 
	Copy F to E
	Reduce C by 1 and Set it as the current location
End Loop

Basically, it was very easy to write this pseudocode. The issue with Braninf*k is that it does not have a COPY instruction for us to use, and so we need to use a looping statement to copy data. But the problem is that to ensure that the loop is executed the correct number of times, we will need to destroy the original value. To get around this, we always update two locations (one where we need it to be copied and the other a temporary!) and then we copy back from the temporary which also destroys it!

Also the A,B,C,D,E and F are all contiguous in memory and so I am using a[0],a[1]…a[6] to refer to them in the code !

Here is the final version.


To make sense of it I have divided it into parts. Some parts have not been commented and are left as an exercise for you to figure out ( I know I am mean 😉 ).

++++++++[>++++>++++++<<-] //32 48
>>>++++++ //6
>+>+<<- //Set first two values to 1 and reduce the number of terms to be printed to 5.
	>>>.//print the number
	<<<<.//print space
	>>[<<+>>-]//copy from a[6] to a[4]
	>[<<+>>-]//copy from a[7] to a[5]
	<<<<-//decrement the value

All right. Pretty cool huh! Well as a real mind-boggler you can try making it print N numbers (dont worry about printing it right, just print out the actual value encoded by ascii ).

You could use it to even encrypt messages in a really wierd way. Oh almost forgot. To run your Brainf*k programs use the following website. They have an online interpreter and a debugger of sorts too :

I hope you liked your Christmas Present ;-). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… Ho oh ho 😛

Binary Search Nightmares

Binary Search Nighmares :

Oh yes, I’ve had nightmares about binary search. The worst kind. Now, you would tell me – What kinda geek are you ! I’ll answer – an honest Geek. Many people feel that the Binary Search is the easiest algorithms but in fact it is much more complex than some of the other algorithms.

To give you a brief background, I can write everything from a Quick Sort to Djikstra SSSP in over 4 programming languages without so much as blinking but when it comes to binary search – my heart begins to pound and my head begins to twirl. Why ? Because every line of that algorithm is just too simple that we (or maybe just me !) don’t pay close attention to it. You may not agree and I won’t blame you. Most programmers have used binary search to just do that – search. Not that I use it for something else. But just that the way you can apply binary search to an array of problems is amazing. And its only when you begin to apply it to others areas, you realize that you never really understood Binary Search !

Let me first show you the actual code :

int binary_search(int *arr, int sizeOfArray,int search)
			mid= lo + (hi-lo)/2;
				return mid;
			else hi=mid-1;
	return -1;

The algorithm is only ~10 lines, but each line is very important. Lets start with line 5: This is the condition that controls the looping. It is important to realize that if the element exists in the array, then the above condition can be anything that ensures continuous looping because on finding the element, we will break. But, if the item is not present in the array, then this condition is very important.

1. We are very easily tempted to write the value, lo<hi instead of lo <=hi, and I will show you why we shouldn’t give into that temptation.
Consider the case : 1, 3 4, 5, 10 ,12 14 and we are looking for 10. The series of updates to lo,hi and mid are as follows.


Now for the last loop, if we had not used the ‘=’ condition, it would have broken from the loop without even finding.

2. Okay. Does the next line look like magic to you ? It is nothing but a better way of writing (lo+hi)/2. Now, why do I need that ? – To save me from the overflow. You see- (lo+hi) could easily overflow the integer range and result into some non-sensical data. Of course, it won’t happen in most cases as you cannot actually have an array the size of a 32 bit number, but still it is better to avoid it !

3. In most cases, you would write lo=mid, afterall that is what the leading text suggests but then why have I used mid+1 ?
Consider the case : 0 2 5 and search for 3.

and it goes on forever !

For the same reason we use hi=mid-1.
Now to prove why this is NOT wrong. Now, if the condition arr[mid] <search is satisfied, it means that (mid+1)-th element is definitely larger that mid-th element. We have already checked with the mid-th element so we can move the lower bound to the element which is after that. Thus it does not hamper the algorithm in any way!

A very common problem employing binary search is , given a monotonically increasing/decreasing function F(x) find a value of x such that F(x)= VALUE. The domain of x is real numbers. To do this, we need to remember that the domain is really dense and so it is not possible to get a F(x) which is EXACTLY equal to VALUE, so we define a new function SATISFY(x,VALUE) which return true if for a given x, F(x) is within a satisfactory range of VALUE. Also, for this case, the condition to in the while loop is just the precision required on the return value.

	double EPS= precision_required;
	double lo=lower_bound, hi=upper_bound;
	while( abs(lo-hi)> EPS)
		else lo=mid;
	// lo is the answer !!

Lastly, one usage of binary search ( give it a shot) :

Given an array of N numbers (sorted) and given a search term- S, find the largest index i, such that the number at i, is smaller than S but larger than any other number smaller than S.

Eg: case: 1 2 2 2 3 4 5 7 7 8 8 9 . and S= 8. Then the answer is 8, as the 8th number (0-indexed) = 7 is the largest of all numbers smaller than S, and 8 is the largest index which contains 7!

I would like to thank lovro for the tutorial on binary search that has helped me out a lot 🙂

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