How do I return an Iterable<Board>
?
Add the items you want to a Stack<Board>
or Queue<Board>
and return that.
The client should not depend on whether the iterable returned is a
stack or queue (because it could be any iterable).
Should I implement my own stack, queue, and priority queue? No, use the versions in algs4.jar.
Is 0 a tile?
No, 0 represents the absence of a tile.
Do not treat it as a tile in either hamming()
or manhattan()
.
Should the hamming()
and manhattan()
methods
return the Hamming and Manhattan priority functions?
No, they should return the Hamming and Manhattan distances between
the board and the goal board.
The priority function is implemented in Solver
.
How do I implement equals()
?
Java has some arcane rules for implementing equals()
,
discussed on p. 103 of Algorithms, 4th edition.
Note that the argument to equals()
is required to be of type Object
.
For online examples, see
Date.java
or
Transaction.java.
How can I align the integers in the toString()
method?
Use String.format()
to format strings—it works like StdOut.printf()
.
String.format("%2d ", tileAt(row, col));
Can I assume that the puzzle inputs (arguments to the Board constructor and input to Solver) are valid? Yes, though it never hurts to include some basic error checking.
How do I create a MinPQ<Board>
?
You can’t because Board
is not comparable.
Instead, create a nested class, say SearchNode
, that represents a search node and
can be compared to other search nodes according to the Manhattan priority function.
How do I reconstruct the solution once I’ve dequeued the goal search node? Since each search node records the previous search node to get there, you can chase the pointers all the way back to the initial search node (and consider them in reverse order).
Can I terminate the search as soon as a goal search node is enqueued (instead of dequeued)? No, even though it does lead to a correct solution for the slider puzzle problem (using either the Hamming or Manhattan priority functions), it’s not technically the A* algorithm (and will not find the correct solution for other problems and other priority functions).
The assignment says that the total number of moves we need to make (including those already made) is at least the priority of a search node. Why? For the Hamming priority function, this property holds because each tile that is out of place must move at least once to reach its goal position. For the Manhattan priority function, this property holds because each tile must move its Manhattan distance from its goal position.
I noticed that the priorities of the search nodes dequeued from the priority queue never decrease. Is this a property of the A* algorithm? Yes. In the language of the A* algorithm, the Hamming and Manhattan distances (before adding in the number of moves so far) are known as heuristics. If a heuristic is both admissible (never overestimates the number of moves to the goal search node) and consistent (satisfies a certain triangle inequality), then this property is guaranteed. The Hamming and Manhattan heuristics are both admissible and consistent. You may use this property as a debugging clue: if it is ever violated, then you know you did something wrong.
Even with the critical optimization, the priority queue may contain two or more search nodes
corresponding to the same board. Should I try to eliminate these?
In principle, you could do so with a set data type (such as either edu.princeton.cs.algs4.SET
or java.util.TreeSet
(provided that the Board
data type were Comparable
).
However, almost all of the benefit from avoiding duplicate boards is already
extracted from the critical optimization and the cost to identify other duplicate
boards exceeds the benefit from doing so.
I run out of memory when running some of the large sample puzzles. What should I do?
Be sure to ask Java for additional memory,
e.g., java-algs4 -Xmx1600m PuzzleChecker puzzle36.txt
.
If your program is unable to solve certain instances, document that in
your readme.txt
file.
You should expect to run out of memory when using the Hamming priority function.
Be sure not to put the JVM option in the wrong spot or it will be
treated as a command-line argument,
e.g., java-algs4 PuzzleChecker -Xmx1600m puzzle36.txt
.
My program is too slow to solve some of the large sample puzzles, even if given a huge amount of memory. Is this okay? You should not expect to solve many of the larger puzzles with the Hamming priority function. However, you should be able to solve most (but not all) of the larger puzzles with the Manhattan priority function.
Input files.
The zip file
8puzzle.zip
contains many sample puzzles.
The shortest solution to puzzle4x4-hard1.txt
and
puzzle4x4-hard2.txt
are 38 and 47, respectively.
The shortest solution to puzzle*[T].txt
requires exactly T moves.
Warning: puzzle36.txt
, puzzle47.txt
, and
puzzle49.txt
, and puzzle50.txt
are relatively difficult.
Testing. A good way to automatically run your program on our sample puzzles is to use the client PuzzleChecker.java.
Visualization client. You can also use SolverVisualizer.java, which takes the name of a puzzle file as a command-line argument and animates the solution.
Sample trace.
The program defines two different data structures on the set of search nodes—the
game tree and the priority queue.
Below is a detailed trace of each data structure during the solution to
puzzle04.txt
.
This trace is useful not only for testing correctness, but also for identifying
memory and timing bugs.
'-'
to denote an empty entry in an array.
ID Board Priority function Parent in game tree ================================================================================ A 0 1 3 Manhattan: 4 Previous: null 4 2 5 Moves: 0 7 8 6 Priority: 4 + 0 = 4 B 1 0 3 Manhattan: 3 Previous: A 4 2 5 Moves: 1 7 8 6 Priority: 3 + 1 = 4 C 4 1 3 Manhattan: 5 Previous: A 0 2 5 Moves: 1 7 8 6 Priority: 5 + 1 = 6 d 0 1 3 Manhattan: 4 Previous: B 4 2 5 Moves: 2 7 8 6 Priority: 4 + 2 = 6 E 1 2 3 Manhattan: 2 Previous: B 4 0 5 Moves: 2 7 8 6 Priority: 2 + 2 = 4 F 1 3 0 Manhattan: 4 Previous: B 4 2 5 Moves: 2 7 8 6 Priority: 4 + 2 = 6 g 1 0 3 Manhattan: 3 Previous: E 4 2 5 Moves: 3 7 8 6 Priority: 3 + 3 = 6 H 1 2 3 Manhattan: 3 Previous: E 0 4 5 Moves: 3 7 8 6 Priority: 3 + 3 = 6 I 1 2 3 Manhattan: 3 Previous: E 4 8 5 Moves: 3 7 0 6 Priority: 3 + 3 = 6 J 1 2 3 Manhattan: 1 Previous: E 4 5 0 Moves: 3 7 8 6 Priority 1 + 3 = 4 K 1 2 0 Manhattan: 2 Previous: J 4 5 3 Moves 4 7 8 6 Priority 2 + 4 = 6 l 1 2 3 Manhattan: 2 Previous: J 4 0 5 Moves: 4 7 8 6 Priority: 2 + 4 = 6 M 1 2 3 Manhattan: 0 Previous: J 4 5 6 Moves: 4 7 8 0 Priority: 0 + 4 = 4 ################################################################################ Step 0 ================================================================================ Game Tree -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Priority Queue -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pq = new MinPQ(); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - - - - - - - - - - pq.insert(A); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - A - - - - - - - - ################################################################################ Step 1 ================================================================================ Game Tree -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A | --- / \ B C Priority Queue -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pq.delMin(); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 // returns A - - - - - - - - - - pq.insert(B); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - B - - - - - - - - pq.insert(C); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - B C - - - - - - - ################################################################################ Step 2 ================================================================================ Game Tree -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A | --- / \ B C | --- / | \ d E F Priority Queue -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pq.delMin(); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 // returns B - C - - - - - - - - pq.insert(E); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - E C - - - - - - - pq.insert(F); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - E C F - - - - - - ################################################################################ Step 3 ================================================================================ Game Tree -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A | --- / \ B C | --- / | \ d E F | ------- / | | \ g H I J Priority Queue -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pq.delMin(); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 // returns E - F C - - - - - - - pq.insert(H); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - F C H - - - - - - pq.insert(I); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - F C H I - - - - - pq.insert(J); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - J F H I C - - - - ################################################################################ Step 4 ================================================================================ Game Tree -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A | --- / \ B C | --- / | \ d E F | ------- / | | \ g H I J | --- / | \ K l [M] Priority Queue -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pq.delMin(); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 // returns J - C F H I - - - - - pq.insert(K); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - C F H I K - - - - pq.insert(M); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - M F C I K H - - - ################################################################################ Step 5 ================================================================================ Game Tree -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A | --- / \ B C | --- / | \ d E F | ------- / | | \ g H I J | --- / | \ K l [M] Priority Queue -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pq.delMin(); 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 // returns M - H F C I K - - - - M corresponds to a goal state, return path from root to leaf: A -> B -> E -> J -> M
Board
that represents
an n-by-n puzzle board.
Be sure to thoroughly test and debug it before proceeding.
Solver
,
write a nested class SearchNode
that represents a search node
of the game (such as the board, the number of moves to reach it, and the previous search node).
Include a constructor that initializes the value of each instance variable.
Make the class Comparable
so that you can use it with a MinPQ
.
The compareTo()
method should compare search nodes based on the
Manhattan (or Hamming) priority function.
Solver
that uses the A* search
algorithm to solve puzzle instances.
This will include creating a MinPQ
of SearchNode
objects.
Don't worry about the critical optimization until Solver
can solve small puzzles.
This video is provided for those wishing additional assistance. The video was made in early 2014 and is somewhat out of date. For example, the API has changed.
Can a puzzle have more than one shortest solution? Yes. See puzzle07.txt
Solution 1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 7 6 7 6 7 4 6 7 4 6 4 6 4 6 4 5 6 4 5 6 5 4 8 5 4 8 5 8 5 8 7 5 8 7 5 8 7 8 7 8 Solution 2 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 7 6 5 7 6 5 7 6 5 6 5 6 4 5 6 4 5 6 4 5 6 5 4 8 4 8 4 8 4 7 8 4 7 8 7 8 7 8 7 8
How can I reduce the amount of memory a Board
uses?
For starters, recall that an n-by-n int[][]
array in Java uses
about 24 + 32n + 4n^{2} bytes; when n equals 3,
this is 156 bytes.
To save memory, consider using a 1D array of length n^{2}.
In principle, each board is a permutation of size n^{2},
so you need only about lg ((n^{2})!)
bits to represent it; when n equals 3, this is only 19 bits.
Are there better ways to solve 8- and 15-puzzle instances using the minimum number of moves? Yes, there are a number of approaches.
Is there an efficient way to solve the 8-puzzle and its generalizations? Finding a shortest solution to a slider puzzle is NP-hard, so it’s unlikely that an efficient solution exists.
What if I’m satisfied with any solution and don’t need one that uses the fewest moves? Yes, change the priority function to put more weight on the Manhattan distance, e.g., 100 times the Manhattan distance plus the number of moves made already. Alternatively, this paper describes an algorithm that guarantees to perform proportional to n^{3} moves in the worst case.
What’s the maximum number of moves need to solve any 8-slider puzzle? Any solvable 8-slider puzzle can be solved with at most 31 moves; any solvable 15-slider puzzle can be solved with at most 80 moves. There are only two solvable 8-slider puzzles (out of 181,440 possibilities) that require 31 moves: puzzle31.txt and puzzle3x3-31.txt. There are only 17 solvable 15-slider puzzles (out of over 10 trillion possibilities) that require 80 moves, including puzzle80.txt.
What’s the best known algorithm for determining whether a puzzle is solvable? You can do it in time proportional to n^{2}. For example, this paper describes a linear-time algorithm to compute the the parity of the number of inversions of the permutation (also known as the sign of the permutation).