Advent of Code 2018, Day 8

Today's was particularly easy for me - in fact, apart from day 1, it might be the easiest. Tree data structures and recursion are just something I'm pretty familiar with, I guess. I did it directly in C++ and it took me about a half hour for both parts. This is also definitely a result of building familiarity with the standard library again - one thing I'm doing now is looking through the algorithms and datastructures on to see what would help so that I can practice things specifically.

I've defined a class Node:

class Node {
        vector<Node>       children;
        vector<int>        metadata;

This is really just a struct (in C++, structs are classes where everything is public by default and you have to refer to them as struct T) but it means I didn't have to do

typedef struct _Node {
        vector<struct _Node>    children;
        vector<int>             metadata;
} Node;

Parsing a tree is a recursive function:

  1. Read the header (nchildren and nmetadata) into two stack variables, and use these to reserve space in the node's two vectors.
  2. I then read as many children as the header indicates - this is recursive but I don't think this is tail recursive so this could be a problem later. This is the half-hour solution, though :)
  3. I then read as many ints as metadata as the header indicates.

To sum all the values, I follow a similar recursive pattern:

  1. Sum all the metadata variables.
  2. Add the sum of all the children to the result.
  3. Return this.

The second part wasn't too much more work:

  1. If a node doesn't have children, return the sum of the metadata.
  2. For each metadata value x within 0 < (x-1) < children.size(), add the value of this node to the result.
  3. Return this.

This was fun, but I didn't find it particularly challenging. There are some ways I could make it harder, though:

  1. Memoize the results of nodeValue - but I'm not sure the overhead is really faster than the result for the input sizes I have.
  2. Extend the node to a better class that includes an overloaded insertion operator so that I can
  3. Generate random, very large nodes to use for testing improvements
  4. Make the recursive solutions tail recursive.

I barely found time to do this, so we'll see; it was really nice having a quick puzzle.