The Code Jam 2019 Qualification Round presented a new interface, some new features (in particular, test runs), and, as usual, four new problems! Foregone Solution and You Can Go Your Own Way each had two Visible test sets and one Hidden test set; solving all of the Visible sets of both was enough to earn the 30 points needed to qualify for Round 1, but both problems were fully solvable via very short and simple algorithms, if you could find them! We wonder how many of you now have lyrics like "you can call it another lonely day" stuck in your head.
As is often the case in the Qual Round, the two later problems were much more difficult and unusual. (In fact, such problems often end up in the Qual Round precisely because there is more time to think about them, and they are mostly optional for advancement.) Cryptopangrams asked you to understand a strange new cryptosystem, and it presented a seemingly impossible factoring challenge that could be sidestepped in the right way. Dat Bae was this season's first interactive problem; like many of our interactive problems, it required you to design a clever strategy for getting as much information as possible out of a few queries. These problems got far fewer solutions than the first two, but we applaud those of you who attempted them!
This was our biggest Qual Round ever, by a wide margin. We had almost 74000 registrants — we've finally achieved our dream of overflowing an unsigned 16-bit variable! Over 35500 contestants made at least one attempt, over 31500 had a positive score, and over 1000 had perfect scores. Every language was used in at least one full solution.
Over 27500 contestants earned at least 30 points and thereby advanced to Round 1; the competition in Rounds 1A, 1B, and 1C for those 4500 Round 2 slots will be intense! If you did not qualify this year, there's always next year, and we will soon offer more opportunities to practice with past problems on the new platform.
Foregone Solution: Written and prepared by Pablo Heiber.
You Can Go Your Own Way: Written by Ian Tullis. Prepared by Micah Stairs and Ian Tullis.
Cryptopangrams: Written by Ian Tullis. Prepared by Erick Wong.
Dat Bae: Written and prepared by Kevin Tran.
Solutions and other problem preparation and review by Patrick Au, Liang Bai, Jonathan Irvin Gunawan, Md Mahbubul Hasan, Andy Huang, Pi-Hsun Shih, Anubhav Srivastava, Erick Wong, and Adilet Zhaxybay.
Someone just won the Code Jam lottery, and we owe them N jamcoins!
However, when we tried to print out an oversized check, we encountered a
problem. The value of N, which is an integer, includes at least one
digit that is a
4... and the
4 key on the keyboard
of our oversized check printer is broken.
Fortunately, we have a workaround: we will send our winner two checks for
positive integer amounts A and B, such that neither A nor B contains any
digit that is a
4, and A + B = N. Please help us find any
pair of values A and B that satisfy these conditions.
The first line of the input gives the number of test cases, T. T test cases follow; each consists of one line with an integer N.
For each test case, output one line containing
Case #x: A B,
x is the test case number (starting from 1), and
B are positive integers as described above.
It is guaranteed that at least one solution exists. If there are multiple solutions, you may output any one of them. (See "What if a test case has multiple correct solutions?" in the Competing section of the FAQ. This information about multiple solutions will not be explicitly stated in the remainder of the 2019 contest.)
1 ≤ T ≤ 100.
Time limit: 10 seconds per test set.
Memory limit: 1GB.
At least one of the digits of N is a 4.
1 < N < 105.
1 < N < 109.
Solving the first two test sets for this problem should get you a long way toward advancing. The third test set is worth only 1 extra point, for extra fun and bragging rights!
1 < N < 10100.
3 4 940 4444
Case #1: 2 2 Case #2: 852 88 Case #3: 667 3777
In Sample Case #1, notice that A and B can be the same. The only other
possible answers are
1 3 and
You have just entered the world's easiest maze. You start in the northwest cell of an N by N grid of unit cells, and you must reach the southeast cell. You have only two types of moves available: a unit move to the east, and a unit move to the south. You can move into any cell, but you may not make a move that would cause you to leave the grid.
You are excited to be the first in the world to solve the maze, but then you see footprints. Your rival, Labyrinth Lydia, has already solved the maze before you, using the same rules described above!
As an original thinker, you do not want to reuse any of Lydia's moves. Specifically, if her path includes a unit move from some cell A to some adjacent cell B, your path cannot also include a move from A to B. (However, in that case, it is OK for your path to visit A or visit B, as long as you do not go from A to B.) Please find such a path.
In the following picture, Lydia's path is indicated in blue, and one possible valid path for you is indicated in orange:
The first line of the input gives the number of test cases, T.
T test cases follow; each case consists of two lines. The first line
contains one integer N, giving the dimensions of the maze, as
described above. The second line contains a string P of 2N - 2
characters, each of which is either uppercase
E (for east) or
S (for south), representing Lydia's valid path
through the maze.
For each test case, output one line containing
Case #x: y, where
x is the test case number (starting from 1) and
is a string of 2N - 2 characters each of which is either uppercase
E (for east) or uppercase
S (for south),
representing your valid path through the maze that does not conflict with
Lydia's path, as described above. It is guaranteed that at least one
1 ≤ T ≤ 100.
Time limit: 15 seconds per test set.
Memory limit: 1GB.
P contains exactly N - 1
E characters and exactly
N - 1
2 ≤ N ≤ 10.
2 ≤ N ≤ 1000.
For at most 10 cases, 2 ≤ N ≤ 50000.
For all other cases, 2 ≤ N ≤ 10000.
2 2 SE 5 EESSSESE
Case #1: ES Case #2: SEEESSES
In Sample Case #1, the maze is so small that there is only one valid solution left for us.
Sample Case #2 corresponds to the picture above. Notice that it is acceptable for the paths to cross.
On the Code Jam team, we enjoy sending each other pangrams, which are
phrases that use each letter of the English alphabet at least once. One
common example of a pangram is "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog".
Sometimes our pangrams contain confidential information — for example,
CJ QUIZ: KNOW BEVY OF DP FLUX ALGORITHMS — so we need to
keep them secure.
We looked through a cryptography textbook for a few minutes, and we learned that it is very hard to factor products of two large prime numbers, so we devised an encryption scheme based on that fact. First, we made some preparations:
A, the second smallest prime to the letter
B, and so on.
Now, whenever we want to send a pangram as a message, we first remove all spacing to form a plaintext message. Then we write down the product of the prime for the first letter of the plaintext and the prime for the second letter of the plaintext. Then we write down the product of the primes for the second and third plaintext letters, and so on, ending with the product of the primes for the next-to-last and last plaintext letters. This new list of values is our ciphertext. The number of values is one smaller than the number of characters in the plaintext message.
For example, suppose that N = 103 and we chose to use the first 26 odd
prime numbers, because we worry that it is too easy to factor even numbers.
A = 3,
B = 5,
C = 7,
D = 11, and so on, up to
Z = 103. Also suppose that
we want to encrypt the
CJ QUIZ... pangram above, so our
CJQUIZKNOWBEVYOFDPFLUXALGORITHMS. Then the first
value in our ciphertext is 7 (the prime for
C) times 31 (the
217; the next value is
1891, and so on, ending with
We will give you a ciphertext message and the value of N that we used. We will not tell you which primes we used, or how to decrypt the ciphertext. Do you think you can recover the plaintext anyway?
The first line of the input gives the number of test cases, T. T test cases follow; each test case consists of two lines. The first line contains two integers: N, as described above, and L, the length of the list of values in the ciphertext. The second line contains L integers: the list of values in the ciphertext.
For each test case, output one line containing
Case #x: y, where
x is the test case number (starting from 1) and
is a string of L + 1 uppercase English alphabet letters: the
1 ≤ T ≤ 100.
Time limit: 20 seconds per test set.
Memory limit: 1 GB.
25 ≤ L ≤ 100.
The plaintext contains each English alphabet letter at least once.
101 ≤ N ≤ 10000.
101 ≤ N ≤ 10100.
2 103 31 217 1891 4819 2291 2987 3811 1739 2491 4717 445 65 1079 8383 5353 901 187 649 1003 697 3239 7663 291 123 779 1007 3551 1943 2117 1679 989 3053 10000 25 3292937 175597 18779 50429 375469 1651121 2102 3722 2376497 611683 489059 2328901 3150061 829981 421301 76409 38477 291931 730241 959821 1664197 3057407 4267589 4729181 5335543
Case #1: CJQUIZKNOWBEVYOFDPFLUXALGORITHMS Case #2: SUBDERMATOGLYPHICFJKNQVWXZ
A research consortium has built a new database system for their new data center. The database is made up of one master computer and N worker computers, which are given IDs from 0 to N-1. Each worker stores exactly one bit of information... which seems rather wasteful, but this is very important data!
You have been hired to evaluate the following instruction for the database:
TEST_STORE<bits>: The master reads in <bits>, which is a string of N bits, and sends the i-th bit to the i-th worker for storage. The master will then read the bits back from the workers and return them to the user, in the same order in which they were read in.
During normal operation,
TEST_STORE should return the same
string of bits that it read in, but unfortunately, B of the workers
The broken workers are correctly able to store the bits given to them,
but whenever the master tries to read from a broken worker, no bit is
This causes the
TEST_STORE operation to return only
N-B bits, which are the bits stored on the non-broken workers
(in ascending order of their IDs).
For example, suppose N = 5 and the 0th and 3rd workers are broken
(so B = 2). Then:
TEST_STORE 11010also returns
For security reasons, the database is hidden in an underground mountain
vault, so calls to
TEST_STORE take a very long time.
You have been tasked with working out which workers are broken using at most
F calls to
This is an interactive problem. You should make sure you have read the information in the Interactive Problems section of our FAQ.
Initially, your program should read a single line containing a single integer T indicating the number of test cases. Then, you need to process T test cases.
For each test case, your program will first read a single line containing three integers N, B, and F, indicating the number of workers, the number of broken workers, and the number of lines you may send (as described below).
Then you may send the judge up to F lines, each containing a string of
exactly N characters, each either
Each time you send a line, the judge will check that you have not made more
than F calls. If you have, the judge will send you a single line
containing a single
-1, and then finish all communication and
wait for your program to finish. Otherwise, the judge will send a string of
length N-B: the string returned by
Once your program knows the index of the B broken workers, it can finish the test case by sending B space-separated integers: the IDs of the broken workers, in sorted order. This does not count as one of your F calls.
If the B integers are not exactly the IDs of the B broken
workers, you will receive a Wrong Answer verdict, and the judge will send a
single line containing
-1, and then no additional communication.
If your answer was correct, the judge will send a single line with
1, followed by the line that begins the next test case (or exit,
if that was the last test case).
Time limit: 20 seconds per test set.
Memory limit: 1GB.
1 ≤ T ≤ 100.
2 ≤ N ≤ 1024.
1 ≤ B ≤ min(15, N-1).
F = 10.
F = 5.
You can use this testing tool to test locally or on our platform. To test locally, you will need to run the tool in parallel with your code; you can use our interactive runner for that. For more information, read the instructions in comments in that file, and also check out the Interactive Problems section of the FAQ.
Instructions for the testing tool are included in comments within the tool. We encourage you to add your own test cases. Please be advised that although the testing tool is intended to simulate the judging system, it is NOT the real judging system and might behave differently. If your code passes the testing tool but fails the real judge, please check the Coding section of the FAQ to make sure that you are using the same compiler as us.
The following interaction meets the limits for Test set 1.
t = readline_int() // Reads 2 into t n, b, f = readline_int_list() // Reads 5, 2, 10 into n, b, f printline 01101 to stdout // The next four outputs match the example in // the problem statement. flush stdout response = readline_str() // Reads 111 into response. (At this point, we // could determine the answer; the remaining // queries are just examples!) printline 00110 to stdout flush stdout response = readline_str() // Reads 010 into response printline 01010 to stdout flush stdout response = readline_str() // Reads 100 into response printline 11010 to stdout flush stdout response = readline_str() // Reads 100 into response printline 0 3 to stdout // Guesses the answer. Notice that we were // not required to use all 10 of our allowed // queries. flush stdout verdict = readline_int() // Reads 1 into verdict. We got that test case // right! n, b, f = readline_int_list() // Reads 2, 1, 10 into n, b, f. printline 01 to stdout // 01 is a query, not a guess at the final // answer (if we wanted to guess that just // worker 1 were broken, we would have to // send 1 as we do below) flush stdout response = readline_str() // Reads 1 into response. printline 1 to stdout // Makes a (bad) wild guess. verdict = readline_str() // Reads -1 into verdict. exit // exits to avoid an ambiguous TLE error
There are at least three different approaches to this problem, and they will have different degrees of success!
In test set 1, N is less than 100000, so if we want to find two numbers A and B such that A + B = N, there are fewer than 100000 possible choices for A. (Once we choose a candidate value for A, we know that B = N - A.) We can try all possible choices of A until we find one for which neither A nor B contains a 4. However, we cannot apply this strategy to test set 2, in which we might have to check almost 109 values!
We can repeatedly choose a candidate value of A uniformly at random from the inclusive range [1, N-1], and check whether both it and B = N - A are free of the dreaded 4s. But will this randomized approach find a solution fast enough?
How many numbers less than 109 do not contain a 4? Consider the set of all 9-digit numbers, with leading zeroes allowed; notice that this set therefore includes all 8-digit, etc. numbers. If we choose a number at random from this set, the probability that it lacks a 4 is the probability that its first digit is not a 4, times the probability that its second digit is not a 4, and so on. Since the probability is 9/10 for any one digit, and the probabilities for different digits are independent, we have an overall probability of (9/10)9, which is about 0.387. In practice, depending on the actual value of N, we might have fewer valid choices, but the size of this answer should give us some hope that we can find our A and B quickly. If we presume that the probability that A has no 4s is not too much smaller than our estimate, and that A not having a 4 does not substantially increase the odds that B has a 4, there should be many working values of A out there to find.
We can argue more rigorously. Let D be the number of digits in N; we will consider the set of all D-digit numbers less than N, with leading zeroes allowed. Suppose that we choose A randomly from that set, and let B = N - A, padding with leading zeroes as needed to bring A and B up to D digits.
Consider the last digit of A. If it is a 4, or if it is (N - 4) mod 10 (which means that the last digit of B is a 4), then we have failed. But at least 8 of the 10 possible values for the last digit are OK. Then, assuming we have not yet failed, consider the next-to-last digit of A. There is at most one value for that digit that would imply that the next-to-last digit of B is a 4, so at least 8 of the 10 possible values for the next-to-last digit of A are OK. Notice that even though the value of the last digit of A might determine which particular value for the next-to-last digit of A would imply that the next-to-last digit of B is a 4, we can still be sure that there exist at least 8 OK values.
And so on, for all D-1 digits up to the first. We only need to worry about the first digit of A or B being a 4 if the first digit of N is at least 4, in which case there are certainly at least five possible values for the first digit of A, of which (just as before) at most two can be bad. So the overall probability that a randomly chosen A is OK is no smaller than (8/10)D-1 × (3/5). For D = 9, this is around 0.1, so our randomized approach should only need an expected 10 or so tries to find an answer, and the probability that it will fail to find one after e.g. 1000 tries is vanishingly small (around 10-46).
If you check all values with D digits for some small D, you will find that the worst case (i.e. the one with the fewest solutions) is a 4 followed by D-1 9s. For N = 49999999, the fraction of possible choices that will work is around 0.1258, so our bound of 0.1 was not particularly conservative!
However, this approach is highly unlikely to work for test set 3, in which N can be on the order of 10100. Our lower bound on the probability that a randomly chosen solution is correct becomes (8/10)99 × (3/5), which is about 1.5 × 10-10. Even if we try a more clever randomized approach in which we build a random A (less than N) out of non-4 digits and then check the corresponding B, which would change those 8/10 factors to 9/10, that bound would be on the order of 10-5, which seems too low to work well on 100 test cases. Can we find a deterministic solution?
Observe that we can write N in terms of a sum of powers of 10 times its digits. For example, 4837 = 4 × 1000 + 8 × 100 + 3 × 10 + 7 × 1.
Notice that every digit can be written as a sum of two non-4 digits. In particular, we can write 4 = 2 + 2, and for any other digit X, we can write X = 0 + X.
We can apply these observations to solve our problem digit by digit! In the above example, we can decompose 4 × 1000 into 2 × 1000; and 2 × 1000; 8 × 100 into 0 × 100 and 8 × 100, and so on. In this way, we are building up the digits of our desired A and B; A is 2 × 1000 + 0 × 100... = 2000, and B is 2 × 1000 + 8 × 100... = 2837.
In summary, we can set A to be the same as N with every 4 replaced with a 2, and every non-4 replaced with a 0. B is simply N with every 4 replaced with a 2. Even though we would normally need a "big integer" implementation to handle numbers as large as a googol, in this case we can implement the solution using only strings!
In the first test set, we can construct all possible paths from the northwest cell of the maze to the southeast cell using backtracking, and see which of them satisfy our requirements (we know from the Output section that at least one answer exists). When we find one that works, we output it as an answer for the test and stop looking any furthter.
Let's assess the number of possible paths from the northwest cell to the southeast cell. For a maze of size N by N, every possible valid path makes N - 1 moves to the east and N - 1 moves to the south. Notice that the order in which these moves are made does not matter – we will always arrive at the southeast cell after making all of them and we are guaranteed not to leave the maze in the process.
So we need to make 2N - 2 moves total, out of which N - 1 are to
the east and N - 1 are to the south, and the order does not matter.
combinations, we can see that there are
C(2N - 2, N - 1) possible options. For N
≤ 10 in the test set 1 there are at most 48620 available paths
that we need to check. For test set 2, however, in which N = 100, there are
(or approximately 2.28 × 1058)
possible paths to take. This is too much to process in the time limit, so
let's think of an alternative solution.
We can think of a maze as a graph,
where the unit cells are nodes and there is an edge between every pair of
nodes that represent neighboring cells. Now instead of moving between two
neighboring cells, we will move between the corresponding nodes along the
edge connecting them. Because we cannot reuse Lydia's moves, the edges that
she used before are no longer available to us, and we remove them from the
graph. After that, our problem of finding a valid path reduces to the problem
of finding any path from the node representing the northwest cell to
the node representing the southeast cell. This is a standard graph problem
that can be solved using either
O(N2) time, which is fast
enough to pass this test set.
With N ≤ 50000 now, we must think of a different approach to the problem.
To solve this test set, let's just invert all of the moves in Lydia's path.
That is, every time she moves east, let's move south, and every time she moves
south, let's move east. For example, if Lydia's path is
then our path will be
Let's understand why this inverted path is a correct answer to the problem.
First, notice that we still make N - 1 moves to the east and N - 1 moves to the south, so we will arrive at the southeast cell in the end as required, and we will not step out of the bounds of the maze.
Now let's see why we will not reuse any of Lydia's moves. Suppose this is not
the case, and we reuse a move from the position that is
to the east and
Y moves to the south in some order from the
northwest cell. Recall that the order of moves does not matter, and there may
be many ways to get to this position, but all of them will require exactly
X moves to the east and
Y moves to the south. What
will be the next move? We know that Lydia's next move is the
(X + Y +
1)-th symbol in the string representing her path (with indexing
starting from one), and our next move is the
(X + Y + 1)-th symbol in
the string representing our path. But since our path string is an inverted
version of Lydia's path string, we know that
(X + Y + 1)-th
symbols of the two strings will be different, which contradicts our assumption
that we will have the same next move. By the same logic, we can see that the
two paths will not reuse any other moves along the way.
The statement tells us how the plaintext is encrypted, but it says nothing about the decryption mechanism! Figuring that out is part of the problem. Since this is a Qualification Round problem, there is slightly less time pressure and competitive urgency, and you have some extra time to think about how this cryptosystem is supposed to be used.
Suppose that Cameron and Jamie are members of the Code Jam team who know the secret list of 26 primes, and suppose that Cameron has just sent the ciphertext to Jamie. Each value in the ciphertext is the product of two of those primes, so Jamie can try dividing each value by each known prime to find the value's factors. (Notice that a value in the ciphertext might be the square of a prime, if the plaintext has the same letter twice in a row.)
After getting the list of factored ciphertext values, how should Jamie recover the plaintext? We might be tempted to say that the second letter of the plaintext is the one whose prime appears as factors of both the first and second ciphertext values, the third letter is the one whose prime appears as factors of both the second and third ciphertext values, and so on. Then the remaining factors in the first and last ciphertext values give us the first and last letters of the plaintext.
This is almost correct, but we (and Jamie) would have to deal with one
significant annoyance. If the plaintext starts with something like
ABABA..., for example, then the first, second, third, and
fourth ciphertext values will all be the same, being the product of the same
two factors (the primes corresponding to
In particular, the start of
BABAB... looks just the same as
the start of
ABABA...! The good news is that we know that this
kind of pattern must terminate somewhere in the message; eventually, either
we will get the same letter twice in a row, or (since the plaintext uses
more than two different letters) three consecutive different letters. As soon
as either of these things happens, we have a "break-in point", and we
know which factors of a particular ciphertext value go with which of the
two letters of the plaintext that it encodes. Then, we can "unzip" the rest
of the plaintext from there, working backwards and forwards.
For instance, if the plaintext starts with
ABABAABAB, the first
four ciphertext values will all be the same: the product of the prime
A and the prime corresponding to
B. The fifth ciphertext value will represent the square of
A, so we will know that the fifth and sixth plaintext letters
A. We can then reason that the fourth plaintext letter
must be the fourth ciphertext value divided by the prime corresponding to
A, the third plaintext letter must be the third ciphertext
value divided by the prime corresponding to
B, and so on going
backwards. We can also determine that the seventh plaintext letter is the
sixth ciphertext value divided by the prime corresponding to
and so on going forwards.
Similarly, if the plaintext starts with
ABABCBABA, when we
inspect the third and fourth ciphertext values, we will see that they are
different, but both have the prime corresponding to
B as a
factor. Then we can unzip from there, as above.
However, we must remember that Jamie has an advantage that we do not have: we do not know the 26 secret primes! We need to find a way to get them.
In test set 1, the ciphertext values are products of small primes. Each
prime is less than 104, so each ciphertext value is no larger than
108. It is straightforward to factor these values by testing
every possible (prime) factor between 2 and 104. Once we have all
of the factors, we will have our set of 26 primes, since each prime will be
represented in at least one factor of one ciphertext value. We can assign
them in increasing order to the letters
Then, to recover the plaintext, we can use a bit of brute force to sidestep the need to unzip as described before. Consider the two factors that contribute to the first ciphertext value; arbitrarily choose one of them. Let us first assume that that factor corresponds to the first letter of the plaintext, and the other corresponds to the second. Then we can take the remaining factor and try to divide the second ciphertext value by that factor. If we cannot, we have a contradiction, and we should go back and make the other factor correspond to the first letter of the plaintext. Otherwise, the quotient is the factor corresponding to the third letter of the plaintext, and so on. For one of our choices, this method will work and will give us the correct plaintext; for the other choice, we will reach a contradiction, since (as described above) it is guaranteed that there is only one possible decryption.
In test set 2, the primes can be enormous (as large as a googol), and the product of two such primes can be even more enormous. We should realize that it is hopeless to try to factor such a product. If we could do that, we could also break modern cryptosystems that depend on the assumption that factoring large numbers is intractable! The Code Jam servers do not run on quantum computers (yet...), so there is no way for us to try to use a quantum algorithm, either.
To solve this seemingly impossible test set, we need to find a different vulnerability of this cryptosystem. The key insight is that any two consecutive values in the ciphertext have at least one factor in common. Factoring very large numbers may be intractable, but we do know how to efficiently find the greatest common divisor of two very large numbers! A method like Euclid's algorithm will be fast enough.
Notice that if we have a plaintext like
ABABC..., it is
possible that the prime corresponding to
A will not appear in
any of the pairwise GCD values. So, we should compute GCDs of consecutive
ciphertext values until we get a value that is not 1; at least one such
value must exist, as described in the introduction to the problem. At that
point, we can unzip the rest of the ciphertext, as described previously,
finding all of the primes as we go. Then we can proceed as above. And we do
not even have to know a bevy of DP flux algorithms, whatever those are!
An essential skill in Code Jam is picking the right tool (language) for the right job. For some problems, a fast language such as C++ may be needed to obtain a solution within the time limits. For this problem, it is probably better to choose a language like Python that can handle very large numbers without any extra hassle, even at the cost of some speed, or a language like Java that has a built-in "big integer" implementation.
In this problem, we need to somehow identify which workers are not returning the bits that we send to them. Let's see how strings of bits change when some of the data is lost.
Imagine that we have ten workers, and we send them the following five random strings of bits (the i-th bit in each string is sent to the i-th worker):
0101010110 0101010101 0010100100 0110110101 0100100100
Also, imagine that workers 3 and 6 are broken. In this case, we will lose the following bits (highlighed in bold):
0101010110 0101010101 0010100100 0110110101 0100100100
In the result, we will receive the following bit strings:
01001110 01001101 00110100 01111101 01010100
Notice, how in this representation, we lost columns of bits because of the broken workers. It would be nice to be able to tell which columns we lost – then we will be able to determine which workers did not return the data!
Let's see if we can make all the columns different – then it will be easy to tell which ones are missing. In test set 1 we have up to N = 1024 workers, so we will need up to 1024 different columns. We can send up to F = 10 bit strings, which means our columns will consist of up to 10 bits.
Fortunately for us, 210 = 1024, so we can make each column represent a unique number in the range from 0 to 1023. For example, we could make the i-th column represent the number i, in which case the first five columns, that represent numbers from 0 to 4, could look like this:
01010... 00110... 00001... 00000... 00000... 00000... 00000... 00000... 00000... 00000...
Now we can use a construction like this to see which workers are broken. If the i-th worker is broken, the bit column representing the number i will be missing in the result we receive.
In the second test set, we can only send up to F = 5 bit strings, which means our columns will consist of only up to 5 bits. 25 = 32, so we can no longer use a previous approach of making each column unique.
Notice how we also know that B ≤ min(15, N-1), even though we have not used this fact in our solution so far. How does this additional constraint change the problem? The first thing to notice is that only a small fraction of columns will be missing when N = 1024, but these columns can still be in any positions.
Let's see what we can do with 32 numbers that we can represent with 5 bits. If we put these numbers in an order, that is
0, 1, ..., 31
we can notice that since B, which is less than 15, is also less than 32, this whole block of 32 numbers will never disappear completely. Let's see how we can make further use of this fact. If we have several blocks like this:
0, 1, ..., 31, 0, 1, ..., 31, 0, 1, ..., 31,...
none of the blocks of numbers from 0 to 31 will disappear completely, and for each the remaining numbers, we will always be able to identify which block it is from.
Let's examine this in more detail. Numbers inside each block are in an increasing order. Notice that even after some numbers disappear, when one block ends and the next one starts, numbers go down:
0, 1, ..., 31, 0, 1, ..., 27, 5 , ..., 31,...
(numbers between 27 and 5 disappeared, but 27 is still bigger than 5)
Assume this is not the case, and
after some number
X from one block goes a number
Y from the next block such that
But this is impossible since there were at least 31 numbers between any such
Y, and these numbers could not disappear altogether.
With these observations at hand, we are ready for a final solution. Let the bit columns of the strings we send to the database represent repeating blocks of numbers from 0 to 31:
0, 1, ..., 31, 0, 1, ..., 31, 0, 1, ..., 31, ... (N numbers total)
After we receive the responses from the database, we can iterate through the
remaining numbers, noting that the new block starts when the current number is
smaller than the previous one, and keeping track of how many blocks we have
seen so far. Knowing the position of the numbers inside the block and the
number of blocks we have seen, we can uniquely identify all the numbers we see:
for example number 16 in the fifth block is
(5 - 1) * 32 + 17 = 145-th
number in the whole sequence. And if we know which numbers we have
seen in the whole sequence, we can find out which numbers are missing, and
output them as the numbers of the missing workers.
Finally, we used the fact that B < 25 to make the approach above work. But B < 24 too! That means we can use the same approach with only four strings. In this case, it is possible that two consecutive numbers from different blocks are equal, since there are 24 - 1 = 15 other numbers in between them, which might all get deleted. Therefore, to detect block changes, we must use ≥ instead of > between consecutive numbers.