Please refer to the sling blade problem on this page. Before I even explain how I tried to solve this problem, you can download and install the code from my bitbucket oltitles repository. After you have tried finding overlapping titles and are convinced that this application does solve the problem, if you are interested in understanding the details of the solution, you may continue reading. AnalysisThe problem requires us to find the longest chain of overlapping titles. The following can be identified from the problem details:
Thus we have a directed graph to reprsent the titles. Now the problem of finding the longest chain gets transformed into the problem of finding a path within this graph which covers as many vertexes as possible. At least theoretically, then the longest chain will be the path that covers each vertex and that too exactly once, since we are not supposed to repeat titles. While prototyping all the different ideas and approaches in code, I used the clgraph library by Gary King. So wherever you read something as ’I tried’ it implies as in ’tried in code’. I have not shown all the code but only the one that I chose as a solution. Traveling Salesman ProblemThe problem of finding the path in a graph which covers each vertex exactly once is the traveling salesman problem and we know it is an NP Complete Problem. In our case, since we have directed edges, where weight of each edge is 1, it becomes the Hamiltonian cylce problem. But we have a directed graph at hand. A heuristic to find the Hamltionian path is to find minimum spanning tree of a graph and finding the shortest paths between the vertexes of the tree ordered by depth first traversal. However this works only for undirected graphs. Anyways, how do you find tree of a directed graph? However this analysis clearly shows that we cannot have a chain that covers all titles unless its an undirected graph. Attempt 1: Assuming an undirected graphGoing by the previous argument, I tried with an undirected graph and produced an ordering of the vertexes in depth first traversal of the minimum spanning tree. Now while finding the paths between these vertexes, I actually look at the directed version of the graph. The problem with this approach is that you find a long chain only if you reach a vertex that is a leaf late enough in the cycle. This is evident from the visual below. Hence this transformation is not suitable for our problem. Again we could actually find the optimum branchings (minimum spanning tree) of a directed graph, but still the vertexes obtained from the branching could suffer from the same problem. So I dropped this idea. Attempt 2: Topological SortAs a first step, I removed all the edges from the edge that would result in creation of cycles. Now I have a directed acyclic graph and you can do a topological sort. I then tried to find the path between two vertexes at the opposing ends of the sorted list of vertexes as shown in visual below. Again this usually produced a chain of around 20 titles. Again here ideally we must try to find the path between the pairs of vertexes which are ordered by their position in the topological sort. Still attempting to find the path by successively moving deeper into the sorted list at both the ends gave me a fair enough idea to follow this path or not. Not happy with the results, I abandoned this idea as well. Attempt 3: Cyclic ApproachFinally this is what I came up with. I first found out if they directed graph is connected. It was disonnected. So I found the largest connected component. I chose this component to find the longest path. Next I figured if it was cyclic or not. It was. So I found all the vertexes which belong to a cycle. Next was to find a path for each cyclic vertex such that the path contains only cyclic vertexes. The largest such cyclic path would be my answer to the longest chain. This is the property that I applied here usefully. In order to prove a vertex is cyclic, we can determine a path where the vertex in question is the start as well as the end node. However the coroallary of this is that every vertex on the the cyclic path is cyclic itself. As such we can find a path of overlapping titles where each vertex on the path is cyclic, because for a given cyclic vertex, one of its neighbors has to be cyclic! Implementing this, I was able to find out a chain of 230 titles. Thus by using the heuristic of finding longest cyclic path so that it contains only cyclic vertexes, I was able to find a heuristic solution to the longest chain. We can also claim that the longest chain which is a cyclic chain cannot be more than the total number of cyclic vertexes. AlgorithmThe algorithm can thus be described as: Build a directed graph of the titles where each directed edge (u, v) represents an edge from title ’u’ to overlapping title ’v’. Then find all the cyclic vertexes of the largest connected component of the directed graph. Find the cyclic path for each cyclic vertex such that the path contains only cyclic vertexs. The longest such path is the longest chain of overlapping titles, given the heuristics.
Since the main task is to find out the cyclic vertexes (using depth first search), let us assume we have a graph G=(V, E) which represents the largest connected component. Since we find out if each vertex V is cyclic, the efficiency turns out to be: \( O(V . (V + E)) \approx O({V}^{2}) \) When we find the cyclic path, we do not do a depth first search and only look up in the list of cyclic vertexes for the next valid vertex for the given vertex
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MeI am a polyglot software engineer specializing in shipping iOS and 3d scientific visualization applications. Archives
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