Given a string, find the minimum number of characters to be inserted to convert it to palindrome.
Before we go further, let us understand with few examples:
- ab: Number of insertions required is 1 i.e. bab
- aa: Number of insertions required is 0 i.e. aa
- abcd: Number of insertions required is 3 i.e. dcbabcd
- abcda: Number of insertions required is 2 i.e. adcbcda which is same as number of insertions in the substring bcd(Why?).
- abcde: Number of insertions required is 4 i.e. edcbabcde
Let the input string be str[l……h]. The problem can be broken down into three parts:
1. Find the minimum number of insertions in the substring str[l+1,…….h].
2. Find the minimum number of insertions in the substring str[l…….h-1].
3. Find the minimum number of insertions in the substring str[l+1……h-1].
The minimum number of insertions in the string str[l…..h] can be given as:
- minInsertions(str[l+1…..h-1]) if str[l] is equal to str[h]
- min(minInsertions(str[l…..h-1]), minInsertions(str[l+1…..h])) + 1 otherwise
# A Naive recursive program to find minimum
# number insertions needed to make a string
# Recursive function to find minimum
# number of insertions
def findMinInsertions(str, l, h):
# Base Cases
if (l > h):
if (l == h):
if (l == h – 1):
return 0 if(str[l] == str[h]) else 1
# Check if the first and last characters are
# same. On the basis of the comparison result,
# decide which subrpoblem(s) to call
if(str[l] == str[h]):
return findMinInsertions(str, l + 1, h – 1)
return (min(findMinInsertions(str, l, h – 1),
findMinInsertions(str, l + 1, h)) + 1)
# Driver Code
if __name__ == “__main__”:
str = “geeks”
print(findMinInsertions(str, 0, len(str) – 1))
# This code is contributed by ita_c
Dynamic Programming based Solution
If we observe the above approach carefully, we can find that it exhibits overlapping subproblems.
Suppose we want to find the minimum number of insertions in string “abcde”:
abcde / | \ / | \ bcde abcd bcd <- case 3 is discarded as str[l] != str[h] / | \ / | \ / | \ / | \ cde bcd cd bcd abc bc / | \ / | \ /|\ / | \ de cd d cd bc c………………….
The substrings in bold show that the recursion to be terminated and the recursion tree cannot originate from there. Substring in the same color indicates overlapping subproblems.
How to reuse solutions of subproblems?
We can create a table to store results of subproblems so that they can be used directly if same subproblem is encountered again.
The below table represents the stored values for the string abcde.
a b c d e ---------- 0 1 2 3 4 0 0 1 2 3 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
How to fill the table?
The table should be filled in diagonal fashion. For the string abcde, 0….4, the following should be order in which the table is filled:
Gap = 1: (0, 1) (1, 2) (2, 3) (3, 4) Gap = 2: (0, 2) (1, 3) (2, 4) Gap = 3: (0, 3) (1, 4) Gap = 4: (0, 4)
Time complexity: O(N^2)
Auxiliary Space: O(N^2)
Another Dynamic Programming Solution (Variation of Longest Common Subsequence Problem)
The problem of finding minimum insertions can also be solved using Longest Common Subsequence (LCS) Problem. If we find out LCS of string and its reverse, we know how many maximum characters can form a palindrome. We need insert remaining characters. Following are the steps.
1) Find the length of LCS of input string and its reverse. Let the length be ‘l’.
2) The minimum number insertions needed is length of input string minus ‘l’.
Time complexity of this method is also O(n^2) and this method also requires O(n^2) extra space.
Related Article :
Minimum number of Appends needed to make a string palindrome
This article is compiled by Aashish Barnwal. Please write comments if you find anything incorrect, or you want to share more information about the topic discussed above
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Improved By : Sam007