Count number of ways to cover a distance

Given a distance ‘dist, count total number of ways to cover the distance with 1, 2 and 3 steps.

Examples:

Input:  n = 3
Output: 4
Below are the four ways
 1 step + 1 step + 1 step
 1 step + 2 step
 2 step + 1 step
 3 step

Input:  n = 4
Output: 7
// A naive recursive C++ program to count number of ways to cover
// a distance with 1, 2 and 3 steps
#include<iostream>
using namespace std;

// Returns count of ways to cover 'dist'
int printCountRec(int dist)
{
    // Base cases
    if (dist<0)	  return 0;
    if (dist==0)  return 1;

    // Recur for all previous 3 and add the results
    return printCountRec(dist-1) +
           printCountRec(dist-2) +
           printCountRec(dist-3);
}

// driver program
int main()
{
    int dist = 4;
    cout << printCountRec(dist);
    return 0;
}

Output:

7

The time complexity of above solution is exponential, a close upper bound is O(3n). If we draw the complete recursion tree, we can observer that many subproblems are solved again and again. For example, when we start from n = 6, we can reach 4 by subtracting one 2 times and by subtracting 2 one times. So the subproblem for 4 is called twice.
Since same suproblems are called again, this problem has Overlapping Subprolems property. So min square sum problem has both properties (see this and this) of a dynamic programming problem. Like other typical Dynamic Programming(DP) problems, recomputations of same subproblems can be avoided by constructing a temporary array count[] in bottom up manner.

Below is Dynamic Programming based C++ implementation.

// A Dynamic Programming based C++ program to count number of ways
// to cover a distance with 1, 2 and 3 steps
#include<iostream>
using namespace std;

int printCountDP(int dist)
{
    int count[dist+1];

    // Initialize base values. There is one way to cover 0 and 1
    // distances and two ways to cover 2 distance
    count[0]  = 1,  count[1] = 1,  count[2] = 2;

    // Fill the count array in bottom up manner
    for (int i=3; i<=dist; i++)
       count[i] = count[i-1] + count[i-2] + count[i-3];

    return count[dist];
}

// driver program
int main()
{
    int dist = 4;
    cout << printCountDP(dist);
    return 0;
}

Output:

7

Asked in: Amazon

This article is contributed by Vignesh Venkatesan. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above

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