Learning Python with Advent of Code Walkthroughs

Dazbo's Advent of Code solutions, written in Python


Advent of Code 2015 - Day 10

Day 10: Elves Look, Elves Say

Useful Links

Concepts and Packages Demonstrated

List Comprehension

Problem Intro

This one is quite a simple challenge. We have to read a sequence, and count how many digits there are in any group of the same digit. We say this count aloud, and this forms the next iteration of the sequence. E.g.

And so on.

Part 1

How long is our resulting sequence after 40 iterations?

Here’s my function that does the hard work:

def look_and_say(data: str) -> str:
    """ Perform a single look_and_say iteration

        data (str): The input string, which is a seequence of numbers

        str: The resulting look-and-say string
    digit_counts = []   # store each count as a (count, digit) tuple, e.g. [(3, 1), (2, 2), (1, 1)]
    digit_count = 0
    prev_digit = None
    for digit in data:
        if (prev_digit and digit != prev_digit):
            # if this digit is different to last digit, store the count of the last digit, and reset the count
            digit_counts.append([digit_count, prev_digit])
            digit_count = 0

        digit_count += 1
        prev_digit = digit

    digit_counts.append([digit_count, prev_digit])
    return "".join(str(count) + str(digit) for count, digit in digit_counts)

It’s pretty simple. It takes a sequence of numeric digits (as a str), and outputs the next sequence.

Finally, when we exit the loop, we use "".join() along with a list comprehension, to assemble our new digit sequence from all the (count, digit) pairs that we have in our list.

Finally, we want to run this function for the required number of iterations:


def main():
    input_file = os.path.join(SCRIPT_DIR, INPUT_FILE)
    with open(input_file, mode="rt") as f:
        data = f.read()

    print(f"Input data: {data}")

    for _ in range(ITERATIONS):
        data = look_and_say(data)

    print(f"After {ITERATIONS} iterations, length of result is {len(data)}")


Part 2

We’re asked to now perform 50 iterations, and then determine the final output length.

We don’t need to change anything except the value of the ITERATIONS constant!

My output looks like this:

Input data: 1321131112
After 50 iterations, length of result is 6989950
Execution time: 8.8330 seconds

So, it runs in just under 9 seconds. We can probably do better, but this is good enough.