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Find the last element after repeatedly removing every second element from either end alternately
  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 28 Apr, 2021

Given an array arr[] consisting of N integers, the task is to find the last remaining array element after removing every second element, starting from the first and last alternately.

Examples:

Input: arr[] = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10}
Output: 8
Explanation: Elements in the list are: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Starting from first array element, removing every second element from arr[] = {1, 2. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10} modifies arr[] to {2, 4, 6, 8, 10}.
Starting from last array element, removing every second element from arr[] = {2, 4, 6, 8, 10} modifies arr[] to {4, 8}.
Starting from first array element, removing every second element from arr[] = {4, 8} modifies arr[] to {8}.
Therefore, the last remaining element in the array is 8.

Input: arr[] = {2, 3, 5, 6}
Output: 3

Naive Approach: The simplest approach to solve this problem is to remove every second element in the array starting from the first and last indices alternately, until the size of the array reduces to 1. Print the last array element remaining after performing the given operations. 



Time Complexity: O(N2)
Auxiliary Space: O(1)

Efficient Approach: The above approach can also be optimized by an observation in the below illustration for N = 20:

Following observations can be made from the above illustration:

  • Every time N/2 numbers are eliminated.
  • If the turn direction is from left to right (→), the first element of the sequence changes to (currentFirstElement + 2step – 1).
  • If the turn direction is from right to left (←) and the remaining numbers in the list are odd, the first element of the sequence changes to (currentFirstElement + 2step – 1).
  • After getting the final value of currentFirstElement from the above steps, print the value as the remaining element in the sequence.

Steps:

  • Initialize a variable, say leftTurn, to check whether the element is to be deleted from the left or right.
  • Initialize variables remainElements as N, steps as 1, and head as 1, to store the remaining element in the sequence, a number of steps performed, and the first element of the sequence.
  • Iterate until remainElements is greater than 1:
    • if the value of leftTurn is true, then update the head as (head + 2step – 1). Otherwise, if the remainElement is odd then update the head as (head + 2step – 1).
    • Update the value of remainElement as remainElement/2.
    • Update the steps as 2 * steps.
    • Toggle the leftTurn to remove elements from the right.
  • After completing the above steps, print the value at the index (head – 1) as the remaining element.

Below is the implementation of the above approach:

C++




// C++ program for the above approach
#include <bits/stdc++.h>
using namespace std;
 
// Function to find the last element
// remaining in the array after
// performing the given operations
void printLastElement(int arr[], int N)
{
    // Checks if traversal is from
    // left to right or vice versa
    bool leftTurn = true;
 
    // Store the elements currently
    // present in the array
    int remainElements = N;
 
    // Store the distance between 2
    // consecutive array elements
    int step = 1;
 
    // Store the first element
    // of the remaining array
    int head = 1;
 
    // Iterate while elements
    // are greater than 1
    while (remainElements > 1) {
 
        // If left to right turn
        if (leftTurn) {
 
            // Update head
            head = head + step;
        }
 
        // Otherwise, check if the
        // remaining elements are odd
        else {
 
            // If true, update head
            if (remainElements % 2 == 1)
                head = head + step;
        }
 
        // Eleminate half of the array elements
        remainElements = remainElements / 2;
 
        // Double the steps after each turn
        step = step * 2;
 
        // Alter the turn
        leftTurn = !leftTurn;
    }
 
    // Print the remaining element
    cout << arr[head - 1];
}
 
// Driver Code
int main()
{
    int arr[] = { 2, 3, 5, 6 };
    int N = sizeof(arr) / sizeof(arr[0]);
 
    printLastElement(arr, N);
 
    return 0;
}

Java




// Java program for the above approach
import java.lang.*;
 
class GFG{
 
// Function to find the last element
// remaining in the array after
// performing the given operations
public static void printLastElement(int arr[], int N)
{
     
    // Checks if traversal is from
    // left to right or vice versa
    boolean leftTurn = true;
 
    // Store the elements currently
    // present in the array
    int remainElements = N;
 
    // Store the distance between 2
    // consecutive array elements
    int step = 1;
 
    // Store the first element
    // of the remaining array
    int head = 1;
 
    // Iterate while elements
    // are greater than 1
    while (remainElements > 1)
    {
 
        // If left to right turn
        if (leftTurn)
        {
 
            // Update head
            head = head + step;
        }
 
        // Otherwise, check if the
        // remaining elements are odd
        else
        {
 
            // If true, update head
            if (remainElements % 2 == 1)
                head = head + step;
        }
 
        // Eleminate half of the array elements
        remainElements = remainElements / 2;
 
        // Double the steps after each turn
        step = step * 2;
 
        // Alter the turn
        leftTurn = !leftTurn;
    }
 
    // Print the remaining element
    System.out.print( arr[head - 1]);
}
 
// Driver code
public static void main(String args[])
{
    int[] arr = { 2, 3, 5, 6 };
    int N = arr.length;
     
    printLastElement(arr, N);
}
}
 
// This code is contributed by SoumikMondal

Python3




# Python3 program for the above approach
 
# Function to find the last element
# remaining in the array after
# performing the given operations
def printLastElement(arr, N):
 
    # Checks if traversal is from
    # left to right or vice versa
    leftTurn = True
 
    # Store the elements currently
    # present in the array
    remainElements = N
 
    # Store the distance between 2
    # consecutive array elements
    step = 1
 
    # Store the first element
    # of the remaining array
    head = 1
 
    # Iterate while elements
    # are greater than 1
    while (remainElements > 1):
 
        # If left to right turn
        if (leftTurn):
 
            # Update head
            head = head + step
 
        # Otherwise, check if the
        # remaining elements are odd
        else:
 
            # If true, update head
            if (remainElements % 2 == 1):
                head = head + step
 
        # Eleminate half of the array elements
        remainElements = remainElements // 2
 
        # Double the steps after each turn
        step = step * 2
 
        # Alter the turn
        leftTurn = not leftTurn
 
    # Print the remaining element
    print(arr[head - 1])
 
 
# Driver Code
if __name__ == "__main__":
 
    arr = [ 2, 3, 5, 6 ]
    N = len(arr)
 
    printLastElement(arr, N)
 
# This code is contributed by ukasp
Output: 
3

 

Time Complexity: O(log N)
Auxiliary Space: O(1)

 

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