# ETOOBUSY đźš€ minimal blogging for the impatient

# Quest for Double Dobbles

**TL;DR**

Letâ€™s start searching for Double Dobble!

In previous post Double Dobble - constraints we touched upon the
relation between the number $k$ of symbols on a card (wellâ€¦ *in a block*),
the number $N$ of cards and the number $N$ of symbols over all cards.

In this post we will take a look at implementing some logic to actually find valid arrangements. Letâ€™s face it: the lack of code in Double Dobble is annoying. To me, at least.

# A few caveats

Itâ€™s important at this point to remember that I made the assumption that both the number of cards and the number of symbols are the same (i.e. $N$), but I have no proof to offer that this MUST be the case for Double Dobble too.

Another thing to observe is that we will take the same approach
explained in Double Dobble: find out a *displacement pattern* in the
circular arrangement of the blocks/cards that allows us to meet our
goal.

While this can work - and *indeed* it leads to successful arrangements -
I have no proof that a lack of proper arrangements of this type is
sufficient to rule out that a certain number $k$ of symbols on a card
has no valid solution. We can only say that this approach does not
produce a result for that $k$.

# Enough! Letâ€™s look for some Double Dobbles!

Each arrangement in the circle can be seen as choosing $k$ places out of the $N$ available. This leads us to $N \choose k$ possible arrangements.

We can further chop this number down by observing that we should
*always* include the first position in the arrangement we check. Any
valid combination can be *translated* back to one including the first
position, so why bother looking? This means that we are left with ${N -
1} \choose {k - 1}$ combinations.

To get the valid combinations we will justâ€¦ *count*, making sure that
for each position we only consider indexes greater than the selections
in the previous slots.

Suppose we have an arrangement, represented by the *indexes* in the
circular arrangement of $N$ symbols, in a range from $0$ up to $N - 1$:

We can define the *opposite* of this arrangement the one where each
index is mapped onto its opposite in the circle with respect to index
$0$, that is:

The index $0$ is its self-opposite, just like counting in the group of remainders modulo $N$.

An arrangement $A$ is acceptable if, and only if, its opposite $Aâ€™$ is acceptable too - so in theory we might avoid checking arrangement that are opposite of ones we already checked.

# Enough! Show me the code!

In coding our quest we will not consider the insight about skipping
*opposite* arrangement, for sake of simplicity.

As we donâ€™t know in anticipation $k$, we will turn to our old friend
`NestedLoops`

in Algorithm::Loop, building an iterator for our
candidate arrangements:

```
my $it = NestedLoops(
[
[0],
map {
my $end = $N - 1 - ($k - 1) + $_;
sub { [($_ + 1) .. $end] },
} (1 .. $k - 1)
]
);
```

Now we can generate the arrangements and check until we find one that provides us with a Double Dobble:

```
while (my @seq = $it->()) {
next unless check_double_dobble(@seq);
say "(@seq)";
last;
}
sub check_double_dobble (@seq) {
my $k = @seq;
my $N = 1 + $k * ($k - 1) / 2;
my $max_delta = $N % 2 ? ($N - 1) / 2 : $N / 2;
my (%one, %two);
for my $i (0 .. $#seq - 1) {
for my $j ($i + 1 .. $#seq) {
my $delta = $seq[$j] - $seq[$i];
$delta = $N - $delta if $delta > $max_delta;
if ($one{$delta}) { $two{$delta} = delete $one{$delta} }
elsif ($two{$delta}) { return }
else { $one{$delta} = 1 }
}
}
return if scalar(keys %one) == 1 && !$one{$max_delta};
return 1;
}
```

The `check_double_dobble`

function is not veryâ€¦ *scientific*, in that
it bails out immediately if we hit a delta three times (it would not be
a valid Double Dobble), but still allows for one of the deltas to
appear exactly once (in particular, the maximum possible delta).

I currently have no demonstration of why this is trueâ€¦ but it seems to work đź™„

It is interesting that the code above yields the sequence of indexes $(0
1 2 4 7)$ for an input $k = 5$, which is *different* from the one in
Double Dobble, although still working of course:

```
0 1 2 4
1 1 3
2 2 5
4 3
4 5 7
```

This makes me *really* curious of what algorithm they used.

Itâ€™s also interesting that there are no solutions for $k \in {6, 7,
8}$, but there is one for $k = 4$ (and $N = 7$) that *might* have
escaped the scrutiny in Double Dobble:

```
0 1 2
1 1 3
2 2
3 4
```

It leads to a *very simple* game with 7 cards onlyâ€¦ but itâ€™s still
better than the more *trivial* case for $k = 3$.

Wellâ€¦ at least now I know how the author of Double Dobble *might*
have been approached the problemâ€¦ but didnâ€™t!