PWC208 - Minimum Index Sum


Here we are with TASK #1 from The Weekly Challenge #208. Enjoy!

The challenge

You are given two arrays of strings.

Write a script to find out all common strings in the given two arrays with minimum index sum. If no common strings found returns an empty list.

Example 1

Input: @list1 = ("Perl", "Raku", "Love")
       @list2 = ("Raku", "Perl", "Hate")

Output: ("Perl", "Raku")

There are two common strings "Perl" and "Raku".
Index sum of "Perl": 0 + 1 = 1
Index sum of "Raku": 1 + 0 = 1

Example 2

Input: @list1 = ("A", "B", "C")
       @list2 = ("D", "E", "F")

Output: ()

No common string found, so no result.

Example 3

Input: @list1 = ("A", "B", "C")
       @list2 = ("C", "A", "B")

Output: ("A")

There are three common strings "A", "B" and "C".
Index sum of "A": 0 + 1 = 1
Index sum of "B": 1 + 2 = 3
Index sum of "C": 2 + 0 = 2

The questions

All examples seem to hint that the two lists have the same length, but I’ll assume that they might have different ones. I’ll also consider that one list might have repeated items, and that taking the one with the lowest index is fine.

Another gray corner is whether the comparison should be case sensitive or not - I’ll assume yes, i.e. Foo and foo are different strings.

The solution

As we have to match items from one list with items from the other, it makes sense to construct an inverted index mapping for the second list, taking a string as key and providing the (lowest available) index as value. This comes very easy mixing the .kv method to get an alternation of indexes and values from the list, as well as using .reverse which both gives us the inverted indexing (switching places between keys and values) and selecting the lowest index as the winner in case of duplicates:

my %list2-index-for = $list2.kv.reverse; # keeps minimum!

The same in Perl could be done with some help from one of the list modules, but we can do also in some different way leveraging the defined-or to select the minimum index for each item (thus coping with duplicates):

my %list2_index_for;
$list2_index_for{$list2->[$_]} //= $_ for 0 .. $list2->$#*;

With this in hand, we can just iterate through the first list and skip items that are not available in the second list. For those items that we actually find, we can calculate the sum of the indexes from both lists and compare with the minimum so far:

  • if the new sum is better, we reset the list of results
  • if it’s the same, we append the new item to the list
  • otherwise, we just ignore the item.


#!/usr/bin/env raku
use v6;
sub MAIN (*@items) {
   my @lists = [], [];
   my $i = 0;
   for @items -> $item {
      if ($item eq '/') { $i = 1 }
      else { @lists[$i].push: $item }
   say minimum-index-sum(@lists[0], @lists[1]);

sub minimum-index-sum ($list1, $list2) {
   my %list2-index-for = $list2.kv.reverse; # keeps minimum!
   my @result;
   my $min-sum = $list1.elems + $list2.elems; # beyond "possible"
   for @$list1.kv -> $i1, $item {
      defined(my $i2 = %list2-index-for{$item}) or next;
      my $this-sum = $i1 + $i2;
      if ($this-sum < $min-sum) { # new winner, reset
         @result = $item,;
         $min-sum = $this-sum;
      elsif ($this-sum == $min-sum) { # append
         @result.push: $item;
      else {} # just skip this
   return @result;


#!/usr/bin/env perl
use v5.24;
use warnings;
use experimental 'signatures';

my @list1;
while (@ARGV) {
   my $item = shift(@ARGV);
   last if $item eq '/';
   push @list1, $item;
my @m = minimum_index_sum(\@list1, \@ARGV);
say "(@m)";

sub minimum_index_sum ($list1, $list2) {
   my %list2_index_for;
   $list2_index_for{$list2->[$_]} //= $_ for 0 .. $list2->$#*;
   my @result;
   my $min_sum = scalar($list1->@*) + scalar($list2->@*);
   for my $i1 (0 .. $list1->$#*) {
      my $item = $list1->[$i1];
      defined(my $i2 = $list2_index_for{$item}) or next;
      my $this_sum = $i1 + $i2;
      if ($this_sum < $min_sum) { # new winner, reset
         @result = ($item);
         $min_sum = $this_sum;
      elsif ($this_sum == $min_sum) { # append
         push @result, $item;
      else {} # just skip this
   return @result;

That’s all folks… stay safe!

Comments? Octodon, Twitter, GitHub, Reddit, or drop me a line!