To print maximum number of As using four keys of special keyboard.

Let us assume that we have a specially made keyboard which has following four keys:  
Key 1:  This key prints character 'A' on the output screen
Key 2: (Ctrl-A): This keys selects the complete contents of the screen - same function as (Ctrl + A) of PC
Key 3: (Ctrl-C): This key copies the seleceted content to buffer or clipboard - same function as (Ctrl + C) of PC  
Key 4: (Ctrl-V): This key appends saved contents of buffer/clipboard to the output screen.  
If you are allowed to press keys of this special keyboard N times, write a program which calculates maximum numbers of As possible.

Example -  
Input:  N = 3  
Output: 3  
Maximum number of As possible with 3 keystrokes is 3 which are obtained by using following key sequence -
A, A, A  

Input:  N = 8  
Output: 12
Maximum number of As possible with 8 keystrokes is 9 which are obtained by using  following key sequence -
A, A, A, Ctrl A, Ctrl C, Ctrl V, Ctrl V, Ctrl V
OR following keysequence also produces 12 As
A, A, A, A, Ctrl A, Ctrl C, Ctrl V, Ctrl V
  
Input:  N = 12
Output: 36
Maximum number of As possible with 12 keystrokes is 36 which are obtained by using following key sequence -  
A, A, A, A, Ctrl A, Ctrl C, Ctrl V, Ctrl V, Ctrl A, Ctrl C, Ctrl V, Ctrl V


Please try solving this problem before jumping on the solution

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Algorithm/Insights

If number of allowed keystrokes(N) is less than 7, then the maximum number of As possible is N. You should be able to verify this yourself.

It turns out that for N greater than or equal to 7, to produce maximum number of As, the sequence of N keystrokes that will be used will always end with a suffix of Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, followed by all Ctrl-V's. We have to basically figure out the point(say critical-point) after which we should use this suffix of Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, followed by all Ctrl-V's to obtain maximum number of As.

To find out this critical point for input N, we try out each of the values from N-3 to 1 and compute the number of As that are produced after making a value as critical point and then appending it with the suffix of Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, followed by all Ctrl-V's. While computing maximum number of As possible with each trial critical point(from N-3 to 1) plus above suffix of Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, followed by all Ctrl-V's, we use maximum number of As already computed for each value(N-3 to 1).

Say f(N) denotes the maximum number of As possible for N keystrokes. Let use see how do we compute f(N) for N = 7.  

First we choose critical point 'N_critical' as 4. We already know the value of f(4) which is 4. For remaining 3 keystrokes, we use Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. The string of keystrokes produced will be A,A,A,A,Ctrl-A,Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. These last 3 keystrokes essentially double the value of f(4). Hence for 'N_critical = 4', we get 8 number of As which is 2*f(4).

Now we choose critical point 'N_critical' as 3. We already know the value of f(3) which is 3. For remaining 4 keystrokes, we use Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-V. The string of keystrokes produced will be A,A,A,Ctrl-A,Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-V. These last 4 keystrokes essentially triple the value of f(3). Hence for 'N_critical = 3', we get 9 number of As which is 3*f(3).

Similarly, for 'N_critical' = 2, we get 4*f(2) number of As which is 8. And for 'N_critical' = 1, maximum number of As possible is 5*f(1) which is 5.

Therefore choosing 'N_critical' as 3 gives us maximum number of As. In other words, f(7) = 9.

In general,
f(N) = N if N < 7
     = max{2*f(N-3), 3*f(N-4),..., (N-2)*f(1)}

The algorithm basically needs to implement the above recurrence relation where base case is defined as f(N) = N when N < 7. To avoid re-computations of same sub-problems, intermediate results are stored in an array and re-used if required. Please check out function findMaxAs(int n, int[] maxAsSolution) in code snippet for implementation details.

For proof of correctness, please see the video above starting from time - 8:48 minutes.


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Algorithm Visualization




Code Snippet

			
package com.ideserve.nilesh.questions;

public class MaxNumberOfAs
{
	// assuming max input for 'n' won't be greater than 10.
	// you might want to change it according to your need.
    private static int MAX = 10;

    /*
     * f(N) = N if N < 7
     *      = max{2*f(N-3), 3*f(N-4),..., (N-2)*f(1)}
    */    
	public static int findMaxAs(int n, int[] maxAsSolution)
	{
        // base case
		if (n < 7) return n;
		
        int maxSoFar = 0, maxAsWithThis_i = 0, multiplier = 2;
		
        // choose the critical point which produces maximum number of As
		for (int i = n-3; i >=0; i--)
		{
            // make recursive call if required
			if (maxAsSolution[i] == -1)
			{
				maxAsSolution[i] = findMaxAs(i, maxAsSolution);
			}
			
			maxAsWithThis_i = multiplier*maxAsSolution[i];
			
			if(maxAsWithThis_i > maxSoFar)
			{
				maxSoFar = maxAsWithThis_i;
			}
			multiplier +=1;
		}
		return maxSoFar;
	}
	
	public static void main (String[] args) throws java.lang.Exception
	{
		// assuming input n won't be greater than 10.
		int [] maxAsSolution = new int[MAX]; 
		for (int i = 0; i < maxAsSolution.length; i++)
		{
			// maxAsSolution[i] = -1 indicates that solution for this input  = 'i' is not computed yet.
			maxAsSolution[i] = -1;
		}
		
		// find max number of As with 8 keystrokes allowed. 
		System.out.println("Max number of As possible with 8 keystrokes: " + findMaxAs(8, maxAsSolution));
	}
}
		

Order of the Algorithm

Time Complexity is O(n^2)
Space Complexity is O(n)


Contribution

  • Sincere thanks from IDeserve community to Nilesh More for compiling current post.

    Nilesh More

    Ninja Programmer