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Longest Common Prefix using Character by Character Matching
  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 08 Apr, 2021

Given a set of strings, find the longest common prefix.
 

Input  : {“geeksforgeeks”, “geeks”, “geek”, “geezer”}
Output : "gee"

Input  : {"apple", "ape", "april"}
Output : "ap"

 

We have discussed word by word matching algorithm in previous post.
In this algorithm, instead of going through the strings one by one, we will go through the characters one by one. 
We consider our strings as – “geeksforgeeks”, “geeks”, “geek”, “geezer”.
 

longest_common_prefix2

 



longest_common_prefix3

 

longest_common_prefix4

 

longest_common_prefix5

Below is the implementation of this approach.
 

C++




//  A C++ Program to find the longest common prefix
#include<bits/stdc++.h>
using namespace std;
 
// A Function to find the string having the minimum
// length and returns that length
int findMinLength(string arr[], int n)
{
    int min = arr[0].length();
 
    for (int i=1; i<n; i++)
        if (arr[i].length() < min)
            min = arr[i].length();
 
    return(min);
}
 
// A Function that returns the longest common prefix
// from the array of strings
string commonPrefix(string arr[], int n)
{
    int minlen = findMinLength(arr, n);
 
    string result; // Our resultant string
    char current;  // The current character
 
    for (int i=0; i<minlen; i++)
    {
        // Current character (must be same
        // in all strings to be a part of
        // result)
        current = arr[0][i];
 
        for (int j=1 ; j<n; j++)
            if (arr[j][i] != current)
                return result;
 
        // Append to result
        result.push_back(current);
    }
 
    return (result);
}
 
// Driver program to test above function
int main()
{
    string arr[] = {"geeksforgeeks", "geeks",
                    "geek", "geezer"};
    int n = sizeof (arr) / sizeof (arr[0]);
 
    string ans = commonPrefix (arr, n);
 
    if (ans.length())
        cout << "The longest common prefix is "
             << ans;
    else
        cout << "There is no common prefix";
    return (0);
}

Java




// A Java Program to find the longest common prefix
class GFG
{
 
    // A Function to find the string having the minimum
    // length and returns that length
    static int findMinLength(String arr[], int n)
    {
        int min = arr[0].length();
 
        for (int i = 1; i < n; i++)
        {
            if (arr[i].length() < min)
            {
                min = arr[i].length();
            }
        }
 
        return (min);
    }
 
    // A Function that returns the longest common prefix
    // from the array of strings
    static String commonPrefix(String arr[], int n)
    {
        int minlen = findMinLength(arr, n);
 
        String result = ""; // Our resultant string
        char current; // The current character
 
        for (int i = 0; i < minlen; i++)
        {
            // Current character (must be same
            // in all strings to be a part of
            // result)
            current = arr[0].charAt(i);
 
            for (int j = 1; j < n; j++)
            {
                if (arr[j].charAt(i) != current)
                {
                    return result;
                }
            }
 
            // Append to result
            result += (current);
        }
 
        return (result);
    }
 
    // Driver program to test above function
    public static void main(String[] args)
    {
        String arr[] = {"geeksforgeeks", "geeks",
            "geek", "geezer"};
        int n = arr.length;
 
        String ans = commonPrefix(arr, n);
 
        if (ans.length() > 0) {
            System.out.println("The longest common prefix is "
                    + ans);
        } else {
            System.out.println("There is no common prefix");
        }
    }
}
 
// This code contributed by Rajput-Ji

Python 3




# Python 3 Program to find the longest common prefix
  
# A Function to find the string having the minimum
# length and returns that length
def findMinLength(arr, n):
 
    min = len(arr[0])
  
    for i in range(1,n):
        if (len(arr[i])< min):
            min = len(arr[i])
  
    return(min)
  
# A Function that returns the longest common prefix
# from the array of strings
def commonPrefix(arr, n):
 
    minlen = findMinLength(arr, n)
    result =""
    for i in range(minlen):
     
        # Current character (must be same
        # in all strings to be a part of
        # result)
        current = arr[0][i]
  
        for j in range(1,n):
            if (arr[j][i] != current):
                return result
  
        # Append to result
        result = result+current
  
    return (result)
  
# Driver program to test above function
if __name__ == "__main__":
     
    arr = ["geeksforgeeks", "geeks",
                    "geek", "geezer"]
    n = len(arr)
  
    ans = commonPrefix (arr, n)
  
    if (len(ans)):
        print("The longest common prefix is ",ans)
    else:
        print("There is no common prefix")

C#




// A C# Program to find the longest common prefix
using System;
     
class GFG
{
 
    // A Function to find the string having the minimum
    // length and returns that length
    static int findMinLength(String []arr, int n)
    {
        int min = arr[0].Length;
 
        for (int i = 1; i < n; i++)
        {
            if (arr[i].Length < min)
            {
                min = arr[i].Length;
            }
        }
 
        return (min);
    }
 
    // A Function that returns the longest common prefix
    // from the array of strings
    static String commonPrefix(String []arr, int n)
    {
        int minlen = findMinLength(arr, n);
 
        String result = ""; // Our resultant string
        char current; // The current character
 
        for (int i = 0; i < minlen; i++)
        {
            // Current character (must be same
            // in all strings to be a part of
            // result)
            current = arr[0][i];
 
            for (int j = 1; j < n; j++)
            {
                if (arr[j][i] != current)
                {
                    return result;
                }
            }
 
            // Append to result
            result += (current);
        }
 
        return (result);
    }
 
    // Driver code
    public static void Main(String[] args)
    {
        String []arr = {"geeksforgeeks", "geeks",
            "geek", "geezer"};
        int n = arr.Length;
 
        String ans = commonPrefix(arr, n);
 
        if (ans.Length > 0)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("The longest common prefix is "
                    + ans);
        }
        else
        {
            Console.WriteLine("There is no common prefix");
        }
    }
}
 
/* This code contributed by PrinciRaj1992 */

Javascript




<script>
// A Javascript Program to find the longest common prefix
 
    // A Function to find the string having the minimum
    // length and returns that length
    function findMinLength(arr,n)
    {
        let min = arr[0].length;
        for (let i = 1; i < n; i++)
        {
            if (arr[i].length < min)
            {
                min = arr[i].length;
            }
        }
   
        return (min);
    }
     
    // A Function that returns the longest common prefix
    // from the array of strings
    function commonPrefix(arr,n)
    {
        let minlen = findMinLength(arr, n);
        let result = ""; // Our resultant string
        let current; // The current character
        for (let i = 0; i < minlen; i++)
        {
            // Current character (must be same
            // in all strings to be a part of
            // result)
            current = arr[0][i];
   
            for (let j = 1; j < n; j++)
            {
                if (arr[j][i] != current)
                {
                    return result;
                }
            }
   
            // Append to result
            result += (current);
        }
   
        return (result);
    }
     
    // Driver program to test above function
    let arr=["geeksforgeeks", "geeks",
            "geek", "geezer"]
    let n = arr.length;
     
    let ans = commonPrefix(arr, n);
    if (ans.length > 0) {
        document.write("The longest common prefix is "
                + ans);
    } else {
        document.write("There is no common prefix");
    }
     
    //  This code is contributed by avanitrachhadiya2155
</script>

Output : 

The longest common prefix is  gee

How is this algorithm better than the “Word by Word Matching” algorithm ?-
In Set 1 we discussed about the “Word by Word Matching” Algorithm. 
Suppose you have the input strings as- “geeksforgeeks”, “geeks”, “geek”, “geezer”, “x”.
Now there is no common prefix string of the above strings. By the “Word by Word Matching” algorithm discussed in Set 1, we come to the conclusion that there is no common prefix string by traversing all the strings. But if we use this algorithm, then in the first iteration itself we will come to know that there is no common prefix string, as we don’t go further to look for the second character of each strings. 
This algorithm has a huge advantage when there are too many strings. 
Time Complexity : Since we are iterating through all the characters of all the strings, so we can say that the time complexity is O(N M) where, 

N = Number of strings
M = Length of the largest string string 

Auxiliary Space : To store the longest prefix string we are allocating space which is O(M).
This article is contributed by Rachit Belwariar. If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article and mail your article to contribute@geeksforgeeks.org. See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks.
Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above
 

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