TL;DR

Here we are with TASK #1 from the Perl Weekly Challenge #115. Enjoy!

The challenge

You are given an array of strings.

Write a script to find out if the given strings can be chained to form a circle. Print 1 if found otherwise 0.

A string $S can be put before another string $T in circle if the last character of $S is same as first character of $T.

Examples:

Input: @S = ("abc", "dea", "cd")
Output: 1 as we can form circle e.g. "abc", "cd", "dea".

Input: @S = ("ade", "cbd", "fgh")
Output: 0 as we can't form circle.

The questions

This is more a question to myself… why did this take this long to solve?!?. I guess Covid got a bit in the way…

Anyway, I guess that the intent is clear and that:

  • different case means different characters;
  • strings might be repeated;
  • it’s better to print out a solution!

The solution

This is the Perl solution:

#!/usr/bin/env perl
use 5.024;
use warnings;
use experimental qw< postderef signatures >;
no warnings qw< experimental::postderef experimental::signatures >;

sub string_chain (@S) {
   my $start = shift @S;
   my ($sf, $sl) = (substr($start, 0, 1), substr($start, -1, 1));

   my %starting_with;
   push $starting_with{substr $_, 0, 1}->@*, [$_, 0] for @S;

   return unless exists $starting_with{$sl};
   my @chain = ([$starting_with{$sl}, -1]);

   LINK:
   while ('necessary') {
      my $top = $chain[-1];
      if ((my $i = $top->[-1]) < $top->[0]->$#*) {
         $top->[0][$i][1] = 0 if $i >= 0; # reset last iteration
         ++$i; # advance at least once
         ++$i while $i <= $top->[0]->$#* && $top->[0][$i][1];

         $top->[-1] = $i;
         redo LINK if $i > $top->[0]->$#*;

         my $last_letter = substr $top->[0][$i][0], -1, 1;
         if (@chain == @S) {
            if ($last_letter eq $sf) {
               return [
                  $start,
                  map {$_->[0][$_->[-1]][0]} @chain,
               ];
            }
         }
         else {
            $top->[0][$i][1] = 1; # mark this item
            if (my $sw = $starting_with{$last_letter}) {
               push @chain, [$sw, -1]; # "recurse"
            }
            else {
               return if $last_letter ne $sf;
            }
         }
      }
      elsif (@chain > 1) { pop @chain } # backtrack...
      else               { return     } # no luck...
   }
}

my @words = @ARGV ? @ARGV : qw< abc dea cd >;
if (my $chain = string_chain(@words)) {
   say 1;
   say {*STDERR} join ' ', $chain->@*;
}
else { say 0 }

There’s not too much to explain:

  • we’re simulating a recursion via a loop over a stack (@chain). A recursion would be the same of course, but we would need to pass a lot of stuff around;
  • there is no backtracking from the very first step (hence @chain > 1)
  • I have no idea if it’s breaking in some obscure way!

I’ve also coded a Raku solution… although my level is so basic that I struggle in just translating Perl 🙄

#!/usr/bin/env raku
use v6;

sub string-chain (@S is copy) {
   my $start = @S.shift;
   my $sf = $start.substr(0, 1);
   my $sl = $start.substr(*-1, 1);

   my %starting-with;
   for @S -> $s {
      %starting-with{$s.substr(0, 1)}.push([$s, 0]);
   }

   return unless %starting-with{$sl};
   my @chain = [%starting-with{$sl}, -1],;

   LINK:
   loop {
      my $top = @chain[*-1];
      if (my $i = $top[*-1]) < $top[0].elems - 1 {
         $top[0][$i][1] = 0 if $i >= 0;
         ++$i;
         ++$i while $i < $top[0].elems && $top[0][$i][1];

         $top[1] = $i;
         redo LINK if $i > $top[0].elems - 1;

         my $last_letter = $top[0][$i][0].substr(*-1,1);
         if (@chain.elems == @S.elems) {
            if ($last_letter eq $sf) {
               return [
                  $start,
                  @chain.map: -> $x {$x[0][$x[*-1]][0]}
               ];
            }
         }
         else {
            $top[0][$i][1] = 1;
            if my $sw = %starting-with{$last_letter} {
               @chain.push: [$sw, -1];
            }
            else {
               return if $last_letter ne $sf;
            }
         }
      }
      elsif (@chain.elems > 1) { @chain.pop }
      else                     { return     }
   }
}

sub MAIN (*@words is copy) {
   @words = < abc dea cd > unless @words.elems;
   my $chain = string-chain(@words);
   if ($chain) {
      say 1;
      $chain.join(' ').note;
   }
   else {
      say 0;
   }
}

Well… it works for a couple of examples!