Adding two arrays into one - algorithm

I have two arrays (a and b) of size n, (positive whole numbers)
a= [a1…] b= [b1….bn]
I want to store them in array c, also an array of size n
where I add one element from a plus one element from b (each used once) into c, lets say the first element in c is combining a1+b3
Quick example:
n=4 a=[a1,a2,a3,a4] b=[b1,b2,b3,b4]
one way could be:
The problem is that I want to add them in a way so that the elements in c become as evenly distributed as possible,
One ideal case would be that c came out as:
but the numbers in a and b might not match up so they become even, so I want it to come as close to even as possible.
I an trying to find a way so that the difference between the biggest number in c minus the smallest number in c (after being combined as evenly as I can) to be as small as possible. In my optimal example above that would be 5-5=0 which is most optimal since 0 is the smallest minimum difference I want to achieve. Some other case with other numbers might come out as 6-5=1, which might be the smallest I could get in that situation
My way of going would be to sort array a in ascending order and my array b in descending order,and then combining them with the same element that they are in. Im not sure if this is the best way or the fastest to do this in, I want my code (doing it with python) to be fast. I cant come up with a better way where I could distribute them more evenly,any clue if there are better ways to solve this problem? I really appreciate all advice I could get! Thank you
When trying to solve it in a way where one of the arrays is ascending, and the other one being descending, there might already exist an algorithm that solves it better that I have not thought of. Thank you for reading!

Your algorithm is both correct and fast. It is just proving it that is optimal which is tricky.
We can do this by proving the following two results.
Any other matching of a and b will lead to a maximum at least as big as yours.
Any other matching of a and b will lead to a minimum at least as small as yours.
And the conclusion is that any other matching must have a maximum-minimum at least as big as yours. From which yours must be optimal.
Now let's look at part 1. Sort a ascending, and b descending. Find the i such that c[i] = a[i] + b[i] is a maximum. Suppose that m is any other matching where we're matching up a[j] + b[m[j]]. Note that m[1], ..., m[n] is a permutation of 1, ..., n.
If a[i] + b[m[i]] >= a[i] + b[i] then part 1 is true..
If a[i] + b[m[i]] < a[i] + b[i] then b[m[i]] < b[i] and so we must have i < m[i]. Now there are n-i numbers in the range i+1, ..., n. m maps something out of that range into that range. Because m is a permutation, by the pigeonhole principle, m must map something in that range, out of that range.
In other words there must be a j > i such that m[j] <= i. But now a[i] <= a[j] and b[i] <= b[m[j]] and therefore a[i] + b[i] <= a[j] + b[m[j]]. And so part 1 is true again.
That concludes the proof of part 1.
The proof of part 2 is similar. Except now a[i] + b[i] is at a minimum, m[i] < i, there is a j < i with i <= m[j], a[j] <= a[i], b[m[j]] <= b[i], and a[j] + b[m[j]] <= a[i] + b[i].
And as noted, part 1 and part 2 together implies that you've minimized the difference between the minimum and maximum.


Minimize Sum of Absolute Difference of Two Arrays

I have two arrays of integers A and B both of size n. The cost of a pair is |A(i) - B(i)|.
I want to pair the n elements of A and B such that the sum of all costs across all A(i)s and B(i)s are minimized.
I understand that I can get O(n log n) by sorting A, then sorting B, and then pairing them together from 1...n respectively, but after attempting for hours and hours, I can't figure out how to prove it. Can somebody help me out?
I've seen how to implement it, I just don't get how to prove it
I am following a slightly different approach here to prove this fact by making use of squares rather than absolute.
Consider 2 arrays, A = [a1, a2, ..., an] and B = [b1, b2, ..., bn].
Now, even if I use random pairing (form a pair using any index from A and B ),
Let's say, the sum of squares of difference (S) = a1^2 + b1^2 + a2^2 + b2^2 + ... + an^2 + bn^2 - 2 * (a1 * b3 + a2 * b4 + .... + an * b56 + bn * a34).
The above sum can be represented as S = sum(ai^2) + sum(bi^2) - 2 * sum(ai*bi), for i goes from 1 to n.
To minimise this sum, we need to maximise the part sum(ai*bi), for i goes from 1 to n.
The term sum(ai*bi) will be maximum when the 2 arrays will be sorted.
Thanks for pointing out #Abhinav Mathur: The statement The term sum(ai*bi) will be maximum when the 2 arrays will be sorted can be proved using rearrangement inequality.
Assume that according to the current sorted arrays, there is a pair |x-a|, and another pair |y-b|. Let's say that switching the elements would give a lesser sum i.e. a more optimal solution.
(Note: while switching around two pairs, the rest of array remains unaffected).
Current total sum of pairs = |x-a| + |y-b|
Modified sum after switching pairs = |x-b| + |y-a|
Difference in sums = diff = |x-b| - |x-a| + |y-a| + |y-b|
If diff is negative, it means we have found a better ordering. If not, it means our original solution was better.
Now, you can take cases and analyse this. (Since the arrays are sorted, let x<y (they're from the first array) and a<b (they're from second array).
Case 1: x>b or y<a:
In this case, both sums will be equal, which can be easily seen by expanding the modulus
Case 2: a<x<b:
If y>b, diff = 2*(b-x). Since we assumed b>x, diff is positive.
If y<b, diff = 2*(y-x). Since y>x as stated earlier, diff is again positive.
You can continue taking similar cases and prove that diff will always be positive, meaning that our original ordering will be the most efficient one.
Sorting and pairing creates a matching that we might call "monotonic", which ensures that if A[i] matches B[x] and A[j] matches B[y], then:
If A[i] < A[j] then B[x] <= B[y]; and
If B[x] < B[y] then A[i] <= A[j]
If you choose a matching that is not monotonic, then one of these rules will be violated for some pair of matchings.
If we pick any two elements from both arrays such that A[i] <= A[j] and B[x] <= B[y], then we can evaluate the cost of the monotonic pairing and the other pairing. Note that if A[j] = A[j] or B[i] = B[j] then both pairings have the same cost so it doesn't matter which one we call monotonic.
In order to compare the costs, we need to get rid of the absolute value operations. We can do that by separately considering all the possible orderings between the 4 values:
Case: A[i] <= A[j] <= B[x] <= B[y]:
Monotonic cost: B[x]-A[i] + B[y]-A[j]
Swapped cost: B[y]-A[i] + B[x]-A[j]
Difference: 0
cost is the same - doesn't matter which we choose
Case: A[i] <= B[x] <= A[j] <= B[y]
Monotonic cost: B[x]-A[i] + B[i]-A[j]
other cost: B[y]-A[i] + A[j]-B[x]
Difference: 2A[j] - 2B[x]
since A[j] >= B[x], monotonic is as good or better
... etc
If you go through all 6 possible orderings, in every case you find that the monotonic matching is as good or better. Given any matching, you can make every pair of element matchings monotonic, and the cost can only go down.
If you start with an optimal matching and make every pair of matchings monotonic then you end up with an optimal monotonic matching. (In fact the one you start with has to be monotonic if it's optimal, but we don't have to prove that) Since every monotonic matching has the same cost, and at least one of them is optimal, they must all be optimal.

Find triplets in better than linear time such that A[n-1] >= A[n] <= A[n+1]

A sequence of numbers was given in an interview such that A[0] >= A[1] and A[N-1] >= A[N-2]. I was asked to find at-least one triplet such that A[n-1] >= A[n] <= A[n+1].
I tried to solve in iterations. Interviewer expected better than linear time solution. How should I approach this question?
Example: 9 8 5 4 3 2 6 7
Answer: 3 2 6
We can solve this in O(logn) time using divide & conquer aka. binary search. Better than linear time. So we need to find a triplet such that A[n-1] >= A[n] <= A[n+1].
First find the mid of the given array. If mid is smaller than its left and greater than its right. then return, thats your answer. Incidentally this would be a basecase in your recursion. Also if len(arr) < 3 then too return. another basecase.
Now comes the recursion scenarios. When to recurse, we would need to inspect further right. For that, If mid is greater than the element on its left then consider start to left of the array as a subproblem and recurse with this new array. i.e. in tangible terms at this point we would have ...26... with index n being 6. So we move left to see if the element to the left of 2 completes the triplet.
Otherwise if mid is greater than element on its right subarray then consider mid+1 to right of the array as a subproblem and recurse.
More Theory: The above should be sufficient to understand the problem but read on. The problem essentially boils down to finding local minima in a given set of elements. A number in the array is called local minima if it is smaller than both its left and right numbers which precisely boils down to A[n-1] >= A[n] <= A[n+1].
A given array such that its first 2 elements are decreasing and last 2 elements are increasing HAS to have a local minima. Why is that? Lets prove this by negation. If first two numbers are decreasing, and there is no local minima, that means 3rd number is less than 2nd number. otherwise 2nd number would have been local minima. Following the same logic 4th number will have to be less than 3rd number and so on and so forth. So the numbers in the array will have to be in decreasing order. Which violates the constraint of last two numbers being in increasing order. This proves by negation that there need to be a local minima.
The above theory suggests a O(n) linear approach but we definitely can do better. But the theory definitely gives us a different perspective about the problem.
Code: Here's python code (fyi - was typed in stackoverflow text editor freehand, it might misbheave).
def local_minima(arr, start, end):
mid = (start+end)/2
if mid-2 < 0 and mid+1 >= len(arr):
return -1;
if arr[mid-2] > arr[mid-1] and arr[mid-1] < arr[mid]: #found it!
return mid-1;
if arr[mid-1] > arr[mid-2]:
return local_minima(arr, start, mid);
return local_minima(arr, mid, end);
Note that I just return the index of the n. To print out the triple just do -1 and +1 to the returned index. source
It sounds like what you're asking is this:
You have a sequence of numbers. It starts decreasing and continues to decrease until element n, then it starts increasing until the end of the sequence. Find n.
This is a (non-optimal) solution in linear time:
for (i = 1; i < length(A) - 1; i++)
if ((A[i-1] >= A[i]) && (A[i] <= A[i+1]))
return i;
To do better than linear time, you need to use the information that you get from the fact that the series decreases then increases.
Consider the difference between A[i] and A[i+1]. If A[i] > A[i+1], then n > i, since the values are still decreasing. If A[i] <= A[i+1], then n <= i, since the values are now increasing. In this case you need to check the difference between A[i-1] and A[i].
This is a solution in log time:
int boundUpper = length(A) - 1;
int boundLower = 1;
int i = (boundUpper + boundLower) / 2; //initial estimate
while (true)
if (A[i] > A[i+1])
boundLower = i + 1;
else if (A[i-1] >= A[i])
return i;
boundUpper = i;
i = (boundLower + boundUpper) / 2;
I'll leave it to you to add in the necessary error check in the case that A does not have an element satisfying the criteria.
Linear you could just do by iterating through the set, comparing them all.
You could also check the slope of the first two, then do a kind of binary chop/in order traversal comparing pairs until you find one of the opposite slope. That would amortize to a better than n time, I think, though it's not guaranteed.
edit: just realised what your ordering meant. The binary chop method is guaranteed to do this in <n time, as there is guaranteed to be a point of change (assuming that your N-1, N-2 are the last two elements of the list).
This means you just need to find it/one of them, in which case binary chop will do it in order log(n)

Finding kth smallest element in union of 2 sorted array

I think this question was asked so many times, but still there aren't any clear solution!
Anyways, this is what I found as good answer in O(k) (possibly O(logm + logn) too). But I don't understand part, where if M_B > M_A (or other way round) we should be throwing away after elements after M_B. But here its reverse - throwing elements which are before M_B. Can anyone please explain why?
And other question is doing K/2 ... we should be doing it, but it isn't obvious to me.
[EDIT 1]
A = [2, 9, 15, 22, 24, 25, 26, 30]
B = [1, 4, 5, 7, 18, 22, 27, 33]
k= 6
Answer is 9 (A[1])
Here is what I think, if I want to solve in O(Log k) ... need to throw k/2 elements each time.
Base solution: if K < 2: return 2nd smallest element from - A[0], A[1], B[0], B[1]
compare A[k/2] and B[k/2]: if A[k/2] < B[k/2]: then kth smallest element will be in A[1 ... n] and B[1 ... K/2] ... okay here I thrower k/2 (can do similar for A[k/2] > B[k/2]. so now question is next time also k index is K or k/2?
What I'm doing is right?
That algorithm isn't bad -- it's better than the one which is usually referenced here on SO, in my opinion, because it's a lot simpler -- but it has one huge flaw: it requires that both vectors have at least k elements. (The problem says that they both have the same number of elements, n, but never specifies that n ≥ k; the function doesn't even let you tell it how big the vectors are. However, that's easily solved. I'll leave it as an exercise for now. In general, we'd need an algorithm like this to work on differently-sized arrays, and it does; we just need to be clear on the preconditions.)
The use of floor and ceil is nice and specific, but maybe confusing. Let's just look at this in the most general way. Also, the solution quoted seems to assume that arrays are 1-indexed (i.e. A[1] is the first element, not A[0]). The description I'm about to write, however, uses a more C-like pseudocode, so it assumes that A[0] is the first element. Consequently, I'm going to write it to find element k in the combined set, which is the (k+1)th element. And finally, the solution I'm about to describe differs subtly from the solution presented, which will be apparent in the end condition. IMHO, it's slightly better.
OK, if x is element k in a sequence, there are exactly k elements in the sequence smaller than x. (We won't deal with the case where there are repeated elements, but it's not much different. See note 3.)
Suppose that we know that A and B each have an element k. (Remember, this means they each have at least k + 1 elements.) Select any non-negative integer less than k; we'll call it i. And let j be k - i - 1 (so that i + j == k - 1). [See note 1, below.] Now, look at elements A[i] and B[j]. Let's say A[i] is smaller, since we just have to change all the names in the other case. Remember that we're assuming all the elements are different. So here's what we know at this point:
1) There are i elements in A which are < A[i]
2) There are j elements in B which are < B[j]
3) A[i] < B[j]
4) From (2) and (3), we know that:
5) There are at most j elements in B which are < A[i]
6) From (1) and (5), we know that:
7) There are at most i + j elements in A and B together which are < A[i]
8) But i + j is k - 1, so actually we know:
9) Element k of the merged array must be greater than A[i] (because A[i] is at most element i + j).
Since we know that the answer must be greater than A[i], we can discard A[0] through A[i] (actually, we just increment an array pointer, but effectively we'll discard them). However, we've now discarded i + 1 elements from the original problem. So out of the new set of elements (in the shortened A and the original B), we need element k - (i + 1), instead of the element k.
Now, let's check the precondition. We said that both A and B had an element k elements to start with, so they both have at least k + 1 elements. In the new problem we want to know whether the shortened A and the original B each have at least k - i elements. Clearly B does, because k - i is no greater k. Also, we removed i + 1 elements from A. Originally it had at least k + 1 elements, so now it has at least k - i elements. So we're OK there.
Finally, let's check the termination condition. At the beginning I said that we choose non-negative integers i and j so that i + j == k - 1. That's not possible if k == 0, but it can be done for k == 1. So we only need to do something special once k reaches 0, in which case what we need to do is return min(A[0], B[0]). [This is a much simpler termination condition than in the algorithm you looked at, see Note 2.]
So what's a good strategy for picking i? We'll end up removing either i + 1 or k - i elements from the problem, and we'd like that to be as close to half of the elements as possible. So we should choose i = floor((k - 1) / 2). Although it might not be immediately obvious, that will make j = floor(k / 2).
I'm leaving out the bit where I solve the case where A and B have fewer elements. It's not complicated; I'd encourage you to think about it yourself.
[1] The algorithm you were looking at selects i + j == k (if k is even), and drops either i or j elements. Mine selects i + j == k - 1 (always) which might make one of them smaller, but then it drops i + 1 or j + 1 elements. So it should converge slightly more rapidly.
[2] The difference between selecting i + j == k (theirs) and i + j == k - 1 (mine) is apparent in the end condition. In their formulation, both i and j must be positive, because if one of the were 0, there is a risk of dropping 0 elements, which would be an infinite recursive loop. So in their formulation, the minimum possible value of k is 2, not 1, and so their termination case has to handle k == 1, which involves comparing between four elements, rather than two. For what it's worth, I believe the best solution of "find the second smallest element out of two sorted vectors" is: min(max(A[0], B[0]), min(A[1], B[1])), which requires three comparisons. This doesn't make their algorithm slower; just more complicated.
[3] Suppose elements could repeat. Actually this doesn't change anything. The algorithm still works. Why? Well, we could pretend that every element in A was actually a pair with its actual value and its actual index, and similarly for every element in B, and that we use the index as a tie breaker when comparing values within a vector. Between vectors, we give preference to all the elements in A if A[i] ≤ B[j]; otherwise to all the elements in B. This doesn't actually change the actual code at all, because we never actually have to do any comparison differently, but it makes all the inequalities in the proof valid.

Minimum of sum of absolute values

Problem statement:
There are 3 arrays A,B,C all filled with positive integers, and all the three arrays are of the same size.
Find min(|a-b|+|b-c|+|c-a|) where a is in A, b is in B, c is in C.
I worked on the problem the whole weekend. A friend told me that it can be done in linear time. I don't see how that could be possible.
How would you do it ?
Well, I think I can do it in O(n log n). I can only do O(n) if the arrays are initially sorted.
First, observe that you can permute a,b,c however you like without changing the value of the expression. So let x be the smallest of a,b,c; let y be the middle of the three; and let z be the maximum. Then note that the expression just equals 2*(z-x). (Edit: This is easy to see... Once you have the three numbers in order, x < y < z, the sum is just (y-x) + (z-y) + (z-x) which equals 2*(z-x))
Thus, all we are really trying to do is find three numbers such that the outer two are as close together as possible, with the other number "sandwiched" between them.
So start by sorting all three arrays in O(n log n). Maintain an index into each array; call these i, j, and k. Initialize all three to zero. Whichever index points to the smallest value, increment that index. That is, if A[i] is smaller than B[j] and C[k], increment i; if B[j] is smallest, increment j; if C[k] is smallest, increment k. Repeat, keeping track of |A[i]-B[j]| + |B[j]-C[k]| + |C[k]-A[i]| the whole time. The smallest value you observe during this march is your answer. (When the smallest of the three is at the end of its array, stop because you are done.)
At each step, you add one to exactly one index; but you can only do this n times for each array before hitting the end. So this is at most 3*n steps, which is O(n), which is less than O(n log n), meaning the total time is O(n log n). (Or just O(n) if you can assume the arrays are sorted.)
Sketch of a proof that this works: Suppose A[I], B[J], C[K] are the a, b, c that form the actual answer; i.e., they have the minimum |a-b|+|b-c|+|c-a|. Suppose further that a > b > c; the proof for the other cases is symmetric.
Lemma: During our march, we do not increment j past J until after we increment k past K. Proof: We always increment the index of the smallest element, and when k <= K, B[J] > C[k]. So when j=J and k <= K, B[j] is not the smallest element, so we do not increment j.
Now suppose we increment k past K before i reaches I. What do things look like just before we perform that increment? Well, C[k] is the smallest of the three at that moment, because we are about to increment k. A[i] is less than or equal to A[I], because i < I and A is sorted. Finally, j <= J because k <= K (by our Lemma), so B[j] is also less than A[I]. Taken together, this means our sum-of-abs-diff at this moment is less than 2*(c-a), which is a contradiction.
Thus, we do not increment k past K until i reaches I. Therefore, at some point during our march i=I and k=K. By our Lemma, at this point j is less than or equal to J. So at this point, either B[j] is less than the other two and j will get incremented; or B[j] is between the other two and our sum is just 2*(A[i]-C[k]), which is the right answer.
This proof is sloppy; in particular, it fails to explicitly account for the case where one or more of a,b,c are equal. But I think that detail can be worked out pretty easily.
I would write a really simple program like this:
import sys, os, random
A = random.sample(range(100), 10)
B = random.sample(range(100), 10)
C = random.sample(range(100), 10)
minsum = sys.maxint
for a in A:
for b in B:
for c in C:
print 'checking with a=%d b=%d c=%d' % (a, b, c)
abcsum = abs(a - b) + abs(b - c) + abs(c - a)
if abcsum < minsum:
print 'found new low sum %d with a=%d b=%d c=%d' % (abcsum, a, b, c)
minsum = abcsum
And test it over and over until I saw some pattern emerge. The pattern I found here is what would be expected: the numbers that are closest together in each set, regardless of whether the numbers are "high" or "low", are those that produce the smallest minimum sum. So it becomes a nearest-number problem. For whatever that's worth, probably not much.

Efficient Way to Find Pair Orderings?

Let's say I have three arrays a, b, and c of equal length N. The elements of each of these arrays come from a totally ordered set, but are not sorted. I also have two index variables, i and j. For all i != j, I want to count the number of index pairs such that a[i] < a[j], b[i] > b[j] and c[i] < c[j]. Is there any way this can be done in less than O(N ^ 2) time complexity, for example by creative use of sorting algorithms?
Notes: The inspiration for this question is that, if you only have two arrays, a and b, you can find the number of index pairs such that a[i] < a[j] and b[i] > b[j] in O(N log N) with a merge sort. I'm basically looking for a generalization to three arrays.
For simplicity, you may assume that no two elements of any array are equal (no ties).
By sorting the array a and rearranging the arrays b and c at the same time, we can suppose that a[i] < a[j] <=> i < j. So we need to find the number of pairs (i,j) such that i < j, b[i] > b[j] and c[i] < c[j]. Let's view (b[i], c[i]) as a point on a plane. We add the points one by one. Each time we add a point (b[j], c[j]), first we count the number of already added points (i < j) such that b[i] > b[j] and c[i] < c[j]. Then we add the point j and proceed to the next one. The sum of the numbers obtained at each step is our result.
Now it seems that this kind of queries can be fulfilled by two-dimensional segment tree: The cost of one iteration will be O(log^2 n), and the total complexity is O(n log^2 n).
(Note that I assume here that the elements of arrays are numbers. It's OK, because using a sorting we can always replace the elements of an array with numbers from 1 to n so that the order was preserved.)
Edit: In fact, a simpler structure called Fenwick tree or binary indexed tree is sufficient. See this link: