Four boys are playing a game with a ball. In each turn, the player (who has the ball currently) passes it to a different player randomly. Bob always starts the game. The task is to find in how many ways the ball will come back to Bob after N passes.
Input: N = 3
Here are all the possible ways:
Bob -> Boy1 -> Boy2 -> Bob
Bob -> Boy1 -> Boy3 -> Bob
Bob -> Boy2 -> Boy1 -> Bob
Bob -> Boy2 -> Boy3 -> Bob
Bob -> Boy3 -> Boy1 -> Bob
Bob -> Boy3 -> Boy2 -> Bob
Input: N = 10
Approach: Let the number of sequences that get back to Bob after N passes are P(N). The are two cases, either pass N – 2 is to Bob or it is not. Note that Bob can’t have the ball at (N – 1)th pass because then he won’t have the ball at the Nth pass.
- Case 1: If pass N – 2 is to Bob then the pass N – 1 can be to any of the other 3 boys. Thus, the number of such sequences is 3 * P(N – 2).
- Case 2: If pass N – 2 is not to Bob then pass N – 1 is to one of the 2 boys other than Bob and the one who got the ball in hand. So, substitute Bob for the receiver of pass N – 1, and get a unique N – 1 sequence. So, the number of such sequences are 2 * P(N – 1).
Hence the recurrence relation will be P(N) = 2 * P(N – 1) + 3 * P(N – 2) where P(0) = 1 and P(1) = 0.
After solving the recurrence relation, P(N) = (3N + 3 * (-1N)) / 4
Below is the implementation of the above approach:
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