PWC102 - Rare Numbers


Here we are with TASK #1 from the Perl Weekly Challenge #102. Enjoy!

The challenge

You are given a positive integer $N. Write a script to generate all Rare numbers of size $N if exists. Please checkout the page for more information about it.

The questions

One first question that came to mind is what if there is no rare number of size $N?. I guess it’s fair at this point to print out an empty list.

Also, one question would be how concerned should we be for the carbon footprint required by our search. I mean, computation might get heavy and we all care for our plante, don’t we?

(Well, probably the answer to the last question is not such a no-brainer, but let’s not get political).

Anyway, I decided that too much is too much, so I’ll throw an exception if the input $N is too high.

The solution

You really have to blame Colin Crain for this solution, because I like his (her? their? - here I get political again!) reviews of solutions a lot, and they surely inspire me to try and get more creative.

So, this time I thought it better to not solve the problem. Well, not to solve it with an algorithm, but more like a human.

With my abundant amount of lazyness, what would I do? I’d click on the page, eventually land on the other page and just read. Why not transfer this bit of lazyness to a little AI that will conquer the world one day?

#!/usr/bin/env perl
use 5.024;
use warnings;
use experimental qw< postderef signatures >;
no warnings qw< experimental::postderef experimental::signatures >;

use FindBin '$Bin';
use lib "$Bin/../local/lib/perl5";
use Mojo::UserAgent;

my $digits = shift || 10;
my $rn = rare_numbers($digits);

my $title = ($digits == 1) ? '1 digit:' : "$digits digits:";
say $title, ' ', join ', ', $rn->@*;

sub rare_numbers ($N) {
   my ($ml, $retval) = get_rare_numbers_for($N, get_rn_cache());
   return $retval if $N <= $ml;
   ($ml, $retval) = get_rare_numbers_for($N, get_rn_web());
   return $retval if $N <= $ml;
   die "carbon footprint too high, sorry!\n";

sub get_rare_numbers_for ($N, $list) {
   my @retval;
   my $max_length = 0;
   for my $item ($list->@*) {
      my $len = length $item;
      $max_length = $len if $len > $max_length;
      last if $max_length > $N;
      push @retval, $item if $len == $N;
   return ($max_length, \@retval);

sub get_rn_web {
   my $ua = Mojo::UserAgent->new(connect_timeout => 5, max_redirects => 5);
   my $res = $ua->get('')->res;
   die "web is not collaborating, sorry!\n" unless $res->is_success;
   return [
      map { my ($i, $n) = split m{\s+}; $n } split m{\n}mxs, $res->body

sub get_rn_cache { [ 65, 621770, 281089082, 2022652202, 2042832002 ] }

The solution is two-fold:

  • we keep a little cache just for the easy cases. With this cache alone, we can address the example use cases without hitting the web… less carbon footprint, yay!
  • as a fallback, we go to the web and look for the current list using Mojo::UserAgent. Remember Mojo::UserAgent introductory notes?

The search itself is easy: just look for all items whose length is the same as $N and we’re done.

The output from the web page is a simple text like this:

1 65
2 621770
3 281089082
4 2022652202
5 2042832002

For this reason, we split each line by spaces, then take the second item that is our rare number.

If the solution cannot be found… an exception will be thrown, so then go look for the solution elsewhere!

So long for now… have a good one and stay safe!

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