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Replace minimal number of characters to make all characters pair wise distinct

  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 21 May, 2021

Given a string consisting of only lowercase English alphabets. The task is to find and replace the minimal number of characters with any lower case character in the given string such that all pairs of characters formed from the string are distinct. If it is impossible to do so, print “IMPOSSIBLE”.
Note: If there is more than one answer possible, print the string which is lexicographically smallest.

Examples

Input : str = “xxxxyyyy” 
Output : abcxdefy 
In the above example, there are 4 occurrences of x and 4 occurrences of y, so we can change 3 occurrences of x to a, b and c and another 3 occurrences of y to d, e, f so that all of the characters are pairwise distinct.

Input : str = “theanswerforthistestisimpossible” 
Output : IMPOSSIBLE 
It is impossible to change characters to make all the characters pairwise distinct.  

Approach: The problem is based on the frequency of each character present in the string. If the length of the string is greater than 26, then it is always impossible to make the characters pairwise distinct, as there are only 26 lowercase characters in the English alphabet. 
If the length of the string is less than or equals 26, 



  1. Make a hash array to store the frequency of all characters in the string.
  2. Start traversing the string.
  3. Check if the frequency of the current character in the string is greater than 1.
  4. If Yes, then traverse the hash and find the first character starting from ‘a’ which has not appeared in the string yet.
  5. Reduce the frequency of the current character in the string and replace the current character in the string with the current character in the hash.

Below is the implementation of the above approach: 

C++




// C++ program to replace minimal number of
// characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
 
#include <iostream>
#include <string>
 
using namespace std;
 
// Function to replace minimal number of
// characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
void minReplacement(string str)
{
    // If length of string is greater than 26,
    // it is impossible to make characters
    // pair wise distinct
    if (str.length() > 26)
        cout << "IMPOSSIBLE";
    else {
        // Array to store frequency of each
        // character
        int hash[26] = { 0 };
 
        // Store frequency of each character
        for (int i = 0; i < str.length(); i++)
            hash[str[i] - 'a']++;
 
        int count = 0;
 
        // Start traversing the string
        for (int i = 0; i < str.length(); i++) {
 
            // Check if frequency of current character
            // is greater than 1
            if (hash[str[i] - 'a'] > 1) {
 
                // Traverse the hash
                for (int j = 0; j < 26; j++) {
 
                    // Find the first character starting from 'a'
                    // which have not appeared in the string yet
                    if (hash[j] == 0) {
 
                        // Reduce the frequency of current
                        // character in the string
                        hash[str[i] - 'a']--;
 
                        // Replace the current character in string
                        // by current character in hash
                        str[i] = (char)(j + 'a');
 
                        // Increment the frequency of
                        // this char in hash
                        hash[j]++;
 
                        break;
                    }
                }
            }
        }
 
        // Print the modified string
        cout << str;
    }
}
 
// Driver code
int main()
{
    string str = "xxxxyyyy";
 
    minReplacement(str);
 
    return 0;
}

Java




// Java program to replace minimal number of
// characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct 
 
class GFG {
 
// Function to replace minimal number of
// characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
    static void minReplacement(String str) {
        // If length of String is greater than 26,
        // it is impossible to make characters
        // pair wise distinct
        if (str.length() > 26) {
            System.out.println("IMPOSSIBLE");
        } else {
            // Array to store frequency of each
            // character
            int hash[] = new int[26];
 
            // Store frequency of each character
            for (int i = 0; i < str.length(); i++) {
                hash[str.charAt(i) - 'a']++;
            }
 
            int count = 0;
 
            // Start traversing the String
            for (int i = 0; i < str.length(); i++) {
 
                // Check if frequency of current character
                // is greater than 1
                if (hash[str.charAt(i) - 'a'] > 1) {
 
                    // Traverse the hash
                    for (int j = 0; j < 26; j++) {
 
                        // Find the first character starting from 'a'
                        // which have not appeared in the String yet
                        if (hash[j] == 0) {
 
                            // Reduce the frequency of current
                            // character in the String
                            hash[str.charAt(i) - 'a']--;
 
                            // Replace the current character in String
                            // by current character in hash
                            str = str.substring(0, i) + (char) (j + 'a') + str.substring(i + 1);
                            //str[i] = (char)(j + 'a');
 
                            // Increment the frequency of
                            // this char in hash
                            hash[j]++;
 
                            break;
                        }
                    }
                }
            }
 
            // Print the modified String
            System.out.println(str);
        }
    }
// Driver code
 
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String str = "xxxxyyyy";
 
        minReplacement(str);
    }
}
 
/* This Java code is contributed by Rajput-Ji*/

Python3




# Python3 program to replace minimal
# number of characters to make all
# characters pair wise distinct
 
# Function to replace minimal
# number of characters to make all
# characters pair wise distinct
def minReplacement(string):
 
    # If length of string is greater
    # than 26, it is impossible to make
    # characters pair wise distinct
    if len(string) > 26:
        print("IMPOSSIBLE")
    else:
         
        # Array to store frequency of each
        # character
        Hash = [0] * 26
 
        # Store frequency of each character
        for i in range(0, len(string)):
            Hash[ord(string[i]) - ord('a')] += 1
 
        count = 0
 
        # Start traversing the string
        for i in range(0, len(string)):
 
            # Check if frequency of current
            # character is greater than 1
            if Hash[ord(string[i]) - ord('a')] > 1:
 
                # Traverse the hash
                for j in range(0, 26):
 
                    # Find the first character starting from 'a'
                    # which have not appeared in the string yet
                    if Hash[j] == 0:
 
                        # Reduce the frequency of current
                        # character in the string
                        Hash[ord(string[i]) - ord('a')] -= 1
 
                        # Replace the current character in
                        # string by current character in hash
                        string[i] = chr(j + ord('a'))
 
                        # Increment the frequency
                        # of this char in hash
                        Hash[j] += 1
 
                        break
 
        # Print the modified string
        print(''.join(string))
     
# Driver code
if __name__ == "__main__":
 
    string = "xxxxyyyy"
 
    minReplacement(list(string))
     
# This code is contributed by Rituraj Jain

C#




// C# program to replace minimal
// number of characters to make
// all characters pair wise distinct
using System;
                     
class GFG
{
 
// Function to replace minimal number 
// of characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
static void minReplacement(String str)
{
    // If length of String is greater 
    // than 26, it is impossible to
    // make characters pair wise distinct
    if (str.Length > 26)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("IMPOSSIBLE");
    }
    else
    {
        // Array to store frequency
        // of each character
        int []hash = new int[26];
 
        // Store frequency of each character
        for (int i = 0; i < str.Length; i++)
        {
            hash[str[i] - 'a']++;
        }
        // Start traversing the String
        for (int i = 0; i < str.Length; i++)
        {
 
            // Check if frequency of current
            // character is greater than 1
            if (hash[str[i] - 'a'] > 1)
            {
 
                // Traverse the hash
                for (int j = 0; j < 26; j++)
                {
 
                    // Find the first character
                    // starting from 'a' which
                    // have not appeared in the
                    // String yet
                    if (hash[j] == 0)
                    {
 
                        // Reduce the frequency of current
                        // character in the String
                        hash[str[i] - 'a']--;
 
                        // Replace the current character in
                        // String by current character in hash
                        str = str.Substring(0, i) +
                                 (char) (j + 'a') +
                              str.Substring(i + 1);
                        //str[i] = (char)(j + 'a');
 
                        // Increment the frequency of
                        // this char in hash
                        hash[j]++;
 
                        break;
                    }
                }
            }
        }
 
        // Print the modified String
        Console.WriteLine(str);
    }
}
 
// Driver code
public static void Main()
{
    String str = "xxxxyyyy";
 
    minReplacement(str);
}
}
 
// This code is contributed
// by Rajput-Ji

PHP




<?php
// PHP program to replace minimal number
// of characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
 
// Function to replace minimal number
// of characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
function minReplacement($str)
{
    // If length of string is greater than 26,
    // it is impossible to make characters
    // pair wise distinct
    if (strlen($str) > 26)
        echo "IMPOSSIBLE";
    else
    {
        // Array to store frequency of
        // each character
        $hash = array_fill(0, 26, NULL);
 
        // Store frequency of each character
        for ($i = 0; $i < strlen($str); $i++)
            $hash[ord($str[$i]) - ord('a')]++;
 
        $count = 0;
 
        // Start traversing the string
        for ($i = 0; $i < strlen($str); $i++)
        {
 
            // Check if frequency of current
            // character is greater than 1
            if ($hash[ord($str[$i]) - ord('a')] > 1)
            {
 
                // Traverse the hash
                for ($j = 0; $j < 26; $j++)
                {
 
                    // Find the first character starting from 'a'
                    // which have not appeared in the string yet
                    if ($hash[$j] == 0)
                    {
 
                        // Reduce the frequency of current
                        // character in the string
                        $hash[ord($str[$i]) - ord('a')]--;
 
                        // Replace the current character in
                        // string by current character in hash
                        $str[$i] = chr($j + ord('a'));
 
                        // Increment the frequency of
                        // this char in hash
                        $hash[$j]++;
 
                        break;
                    }
                }
            }
        }
 
        // Print the modified string
        echo $str;
    }
}
 
// Driver code
$str = "xxxxyyyy";
minReplacement($str);
 
// This code is contributed by ita_c
?>

Javascript




<script>
// Javascript program to replace minimal number of
// characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct 
     
// Function to replace minimal number of
// characters to make all characters
// pair wise distinct
    function minReplacement(str)
    {
        // If length of String is greater than 26,
        // it is impossible to make characters
        // pair wise distinct
        if (str.length > 26) {
            document.write("IMPOSSIBLE<br>");
        }
        else {
            // Array to store frequency of each
            // character
            let hash = new Array(26);
            for(let i=0;i<26;i++)
            {
                hash[i]=0;
            }
   
            // Store frequency of each character
            for (let i = 0; i < str.length; i++) {
                hash[str[i].charCodeAt(0) - 'a'.charCodeAt(0)]++;
            }
   
            let count = 0;
   
            // Start traversing the String
            for (let i = 0; i < str.length; i++) {
   
                // Check if frequency of current character
                // is greater than 1
                if (hash[str[i].charCodeAt(0) - 'a'.charCodeAt(0)] > 1) {
   
                    // Traverse the hash
                    for (let j = 0; j < 26; j++) {
   
                        // Find the first character starting from 'a'
                        // which have not appeared in the String yet
                        if (hash[j] == 0) {
   
                            // Reduce the frequency of current
                            // character in the String
                            hash[str[i].charCodeAt(0) - 'a'.charCodeAt(0)]--;
   
                            // Replace the current character in String
                            // by current character in hash
                            str = str.substring(0, i) +
                              String.fromCharCode(j + 'a'.charCodeAt(0)) +
                              str.substring(i + 1);
                            //str[i] = (char)(j + 'a');
   
                            // Increment the frequency of
                            // this char in hash
                            hash[j]++;
   
                            break;
                        }
                    }
                }
            }
   
            // Print the modified String
            document.write(str);
        }
    }
     
    // Driver code
    let str = "xxxxyyyy";
    minReplacement(str);
 
 
 
// This code is contributed by rag2127
</script>
Output: 
abcxdefy

 

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