Lesson 3

Hello, coding enthusiast! In our journey to master coding and problem-solving, we've arrived at an interesting challenge today. We're going to focus heavily on **combinatorial problems** in practice. Specifically, we're examining combinatorial problems that involve working with large data sets and multiple pairs of numbers. We'll learn how to solve significant problems efficiently by implementing smart use of data structures like `unordered_maps`

and sidestepping expensive operations like iterating over large arrays. Are you ready? Let's dive in!

In this unit's task, you'll be given a large `std::vector`

composed of pairs of distinct, positive integers, including up to 1,000,000 elements. Your challenge is to write a C++ function to count the number of indices `(i, j)`

($i \ne j$) where the `i-th`

pair does not share a common element with the `j-th`

pair. A crucial point to remember is that a pair `(a, b)`

is considered identical to `(b, a)`

, meaning the order of elements in a pair is irrelevant in this case. It is guaranteed that no two pairs are element-wise equal.

For example, given the array `{{2, 5}, {1, 6}, {3, 2}, {4, 2}, {5, 1}, {6, 3}}`

, the output should be `8`

. The required index pairs are the following: `(0, 1)`

(i.e., the pair `{2, 5}`

does not share a common element with pair `{1, 6}`

), `(0, 5)`

(`{2, 5}`

does not share a common element with `{6, 3}`

), `(1, 2)`

, `(1, 3)`

, `(2, 4)`

, `(3, 4)`

, `(3, 5)`

, `(4, 5)`

.

At the core of our solution, we're going to leverage the power of combinatorics and a smart way of keeping track of occurrences to solve this problem efficiently.

The central idea is to calculate the total number of pairs and then subtract from this total the number of pairs that share a common element. This will leave us with the count of pairs that do not share a common element, which is what we're after.

Firstly, we will calculate the total number of pairs possible in the array. In a set of `n`

numbers, the number of pairs is given by the formula $n \cdot (n - 1) / 2$. This is because each element in the set can pair with every other element, but we divide by 2 because the order of pairs doesn't matter (i.e., pair `(a, b)`

is identical to pair `(b, a)`

).

Secondly, we'll count the number of pairs that have at least one common element. To do this, we will use an `unordered_map`

to track each number's appearance in the pairs. For each number, we calculate how many pairs it appears in and sum these numbers up.

Let's begin with the initial steps of our solution. The first thing we need is a convenient place to store the occurrence of each number in the pairs. Here, C++'s data structure, `unordered_map`

, shines. It enables us to efficiently track the number and its corresponding occurrences.

Next, we calculate the total number of pairs using the formula $n \cdot (n - 1) / 2$. We'll need this for our final calculation.

Let's initialize an empty `unordered_map`

and calculate the total pairs.

C++`1#include <vector> 2#include <unordered_map> 3#include <iostream> 4 5int non_common_pairs(const std::vector<std::pair<int, int>>& arr) { 6 std::unordered_map<int, std::vector<int>> indices; 7 int total_pairs = arr.size() * (arr.size() - 1) / 2; 8 9 // (The rest of the code will be added in subsequent steps) 10}`

With the first step completed, our next move is to populate the `unordered_map`

by iterating over the array of pairs. For each pair, we'll examine its two elements and either append the current index to the list of indices for this number (if it’s already in the `unordered_map`

) or start a new list for it (if it isn't).

Here's how we modify our function to carry out this operation:

C++`1#include <vector> 2#include <unordered_map> 3#include <iostream> 4 5int non_common_pairs(const std::vector<std::pair<int, int>>& arr) { 6 std::unordered_map<int, std::vector<int>> indices; 7 int total_pairs = arr.size() * (arr.size() - 1) / 2; 8 9 for (int idx = 0; idx < arr.size(); ++idx) { 10 const auto& pair = arr[idx]; 11 for (const auto& num : {pair.first, pair.second}) { 12 indices[num].push_back(idx); 13 } 14 } 15 16 // (The rest of the code will be added in the next step) 17}`

Finally, with all the data in place, we arrive at our final step of calculation. We need to calculate the total pairs of indices that share at least one common element. For that, we'll consider each number in the array and count the number of times those numbers occur in different pairs. We'll use the same formula as before.

Finally, we subtract these common pairs from the total pairs to get our answer — the count of pairs without a common number.

Adding this last part to our function gives us the solution:

C++`1#include <vector> 2#include <unordered_map> 3#include <iostream> 4 5int non_common_pairs(const std::vector<std::pair<int, int>>& arr) { 6 std::unordered_map<int, std::vector<int>> indices; 7 int total_pairs = arr.size() * (arr.size() - 1) / 2; 8 9 for (int idx = 0; idx < arr.size(); ++idx) { 10 const auto& pair = arr[idx]; 11 for (const auto& num : {pair.first, pair.second}) { 12 indices[num].push_back(idx); 13 } 14 } 15 16 int common_pairs = 0; 17 for (const auto& entry : indices) { 18 int size = entry.second.size(); 19 common_pairs += size * (size - 1) / 2; 20 } 21 22 return total_pairs - common_pairs; 23} 24 25int main() { 26 std::vector<std::pair<int, int>> arr = {{2, 5}, {1, 6}, {3, 2}, {4, 2}, {5, 1}, {6, 3}}; 27 std::cout << "Count of non-common pairs: " << non_common_pairs(arr) << std::endl; 28 return 0; 29}`

Great job! Today's challenge was certainly a tough one, but you managed to navigate through it successfully. You utilized an `unordered_map`

to efficiently track occurrences within a large data set and applied combinatorial reasoning to subtract the opposite case from the total possibilities. Consequently, you came up with a solution that operates in an efficient time frame.

This knowledge will serve you well in solving similar complex problems in the future. Remember, the best way to handle large data is to apply clever techniques that sidestep unnecessary computations, just like we did today.

Now, it's time to solidify your understanding. Up next are practice problems related to today's lesson. Start working on them to reinforce these concepts. Happy coding!