Happy New Year, everyone! Let me tell you about the epic New Year's Eve that I had. I got into a fight with the last problem from the December 2016 USA Computing Olympiad contest. I struggled mightily, felt beaten down at times, lost all hope, but I finally overcame. It was a marathon. We started sparring around noon, and I did not vanquish my foe until the final hour of 2017.

Having a long weekend in a strange new city, I've had to get creative with things to do. I decided to tackle some olympiad problems. For those who are not familiar with the competitive math or programming scene, the USAMO and USACO are math and programming contests targeted towards high school students.

So, as an old man, what am I doing whittling away precious hours tackling these problems? I wish that I could say that I was reliving my glory days from high school. But truth be told, I've always been a lackluster student, who did the minimal effort necessary. I can't recall ever having written a single line of code in high school, and I maybe solved 2 or 3 AIME problems (10 years later, I can usually do the first 10 with some consistency, the rest are a toss-up). Of course, I never trained for the competitions, so who knows if I could have potentially have done well.

We all have regrets from our youth. For me, I have all the familiar ones: mistreating people, lost friends, not having the best relationship with my parents, losing tennis matches, quitting the violin, and of course, the one girl that got away. However, what I really regret the most was not having pursued math and computer science earlier. I'm not sure why. Even now, 10 years older, it's quite clear that I am not talented enough to have competed in the IMO or IOI: I couldn't really hack it as a mathematician, and you can scroll to the very bottom to see my score of 33.

Despite the lack of talent, I just really love problem solving. In many ways it's become an escape for me when I feel lonely and can't make sense of the world. I can get lost in my own abstract world and forget about my physical needs like sleep or food. On solving a problem, I wake up from my stupor, realize that the world has left me behind, and find everyone suddenly married with kids.

There is such triumph in solving a hard problem. Of course, there are times of struggle and hopelessness. Such is my fledging sense of self-worth that it depends on my ability to solve abstract problems that have no basis in reality. Thus, I want to write up my solution to Robotic Cow Herd and 2013 USAMO Problem 2

## Robotic Cow Herd

In the Platinum Division December 2016 contest, there were 3 problems. In contest, I was completely stuck on Lots of Triangles and never had a chance to look at the other 2 problems. This past Friday, I did Team Building in my own time. It took me maybe 3 hours, so I suspect if I started with that problem instead, I could have gotten a decent amount of points on the board.

Yesterday, I attempted Robotic Cow Herd. I was actually able to solve this problem on my own, but I worked on it on and off over a period of 12 hours, so I definitely wouldn't have scored anything in this case.

My solution is quite different than the given solution, which uses binary search. I did actually consider such a solution, but only gave it 5 minutes of though before abandoning it, far too little time to work out the details. Instead, my solution is quite similar to the one that they describe using priority queue before saying such a solution wouldn't be feasible. However, if we are careful about how we fill our queue it can work.

We are charged with assembling $K$ different cows that consist of $N$ components, where each component will have $M$ different types. Each type of component has an associated cost, and cow $A$ is different than cow $B$ if at least one of the components is of a different type.

Of course, we aren't going to try all $M^N$ different cows. It's clear right away that we can take greedy approach, start with the cheapest cow, and get the next cheapest cow by varying a single component. Since each new cow that we make is based on a previous cow, it's only necessary to store the deltas rather than all $N$ components. Naturally, this gives way to a tree representation shown in the title picture.

Each node is a cow prototype. We start with the cheapest cow as the root, and each child consists of a single delta. The cost of a cow can be had by summing the deltas from the root to the node. Now every prototype gives way to $N$ new possible prototypes. $NK$ is just too much to fit in a priority queue. Hence, the official solution says this approach isn't feasible.

However, if we sort our components in the proper order, we know the next two cheapest cows based off this prototype. Moreover, we have to handle a special case, where instead of a cow just generating children, it also generates a sibling. We sort by increasing deltas. In the given sample data, our base cost is $4$, and our delta matrix (not a true matrix) looks like $$ \begin{pmatrix} 1 & 0 \\ 2 & 1 & 2 & 2\\ 2 & 2 & 5 \end{pmatrix}. $$

Also, we add our microcontrollers in increasing order to avoid double counting. Now, if we have just added microcontroller $(i,j)$, the cheapest thing to do is to change it to $(i + 1, 0)$ or $(i, j + 1)$. But what about the case, where we want to skip $(i+1,0)$ and add $(i + 2, 0), (i+3,0),\ldots$? Since we're lazy about pushing into our priority queue and only add one child at a time, when a child is removed, we add its sibling in this special case where $j = 0$.

Parent-child relationships are marked with solid lines. Creation of a node is marked with a red arrow. Nodes still in the queue are blue. The number before the colon denotes the rank of the cow. In this case, the cost for 10 cows is $$4 + 5 + 5 + 6 + 6 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 61.$$

Dashed lines represent the special case of creating a sibling. The tuple $(1,-,0)$ means we used microcontrollers $(0,1)$ and $(2,0)$. For component $1$, we decided to just use cheapest one. Here's the code.

```
import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;
public class roboherd {
/**
* Microcontrollers are stored in a matrix-like structure with rows and columns.
* Use row-first ordering.
*/
private static class Position implements Comparable<Position> {
private int row;
private int column;
public Position(int row, int column) {
this.row = row; this.column = column;
}
public int getRow() { return this.row; }
public int getColumn() { return this.column; }
public int compareTo(Position other) {
if (this.getRow() != other.getRow()) return this.getRow() - other.getRow();
return this.getColumn() - other.getColumn();
}
@Override
public String toString() {
return "{" + this.getRow() + ", " + this.getColumn() + "}";
}
}
/**
* Stores the current cost of a cow along with the last microcontroller added. To save space,
* states only store the last delta and obscures the rest of the state in the cost variable.
*/
private static class MicrocontrollerState implements Comparable<MicrocontrollerState> {
private long cost;
private Position position; // the position of the last microcontroller added
public MicrocontrollerState(long cost, Position position) {
this.cost = cost;
this.position = position;
}
public long getCost() { return this.cost; }
public Position getPosition() { return this.position; }
public int compareTo(MicrocontrollerState other) {
if (this.getCost() != other.getCost()) return (int) Math.signum(this.getCost() - other.getCost());
return this.position.compareTo(other.position);
}
}
public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
BufferedReader in = new BufferedReader(new FileReader("roboherd.in"));
PrintWriter out = new PrintWriter(new BufferedWriter(new FileWriter("roboherd.out")));
StringTokenizer st = new StringTokenizer(in.readLine());
int N = Integer.parseInt(st.nextToken()); // number of microcontrollers per cow
int K = Integer.parseInt(st.nextToken()); // number of cows to make
assert 1 <= N && N <= 100000 : N;
assert 1 <= K && K <= 100000 : K;
ArrayList<int[]> P = new ArrayList<int[]>(N); // microcontroller cost deltas
long minCost = 0; // min cost to make all the cows wanted
for (int i = 0; i < N; ++i) {
st = new StringTokenizer(in.readLine());
int M = Integer.parseInt(st.nextToken());
assert 1 <= M && M <= 10 : M;
int[] costs = new int[M];
for (int j = 0; j < M; ++j) {
costs[j] = Integer.parseInt(st.nextToken());
assert 1 <= costs[j] && costs[j] <= 100000000 : costs[j];
}
Arrays.sort(costs);
minCost += costs[0];
// Store deltas, which will only exist if there is more than one type of microcontroller.
if (M > 1) {
int[] costDeltas = new int[M - 1];
for (int j = M - 2; j >= 0; --j) costDeltas[j] = costs[j + 1] - costs[j];
P.add(costDeltas);
}
}
in.close();
N = P.size(); // redefine N to exclude microcontrollers of only 1 type
--K; // we already have our first cow
// Identify the next best configuration in log(K) time.
PriorityQueue<MicrocontrollerState> pq = new PriorityQueue<MicrocontrollerState>(3*K);
// Order the microcontrollers in such a way that if we were to vary the prototype by only 1,
// the best way to do would be to pick microcontrollers in the order
// (0,0), (0,1),...,(0,M_0-2),(1,0),...,(1,M_1-2),...,(N-1,0),...,(N-1,M_{N-1}-2)
Collections.sort(P, new Comparator<int[]>() {
@Override
public int compare(int[] a, int[] b) {
for (int j = 0; j < Math.min(a.length, b.length); ++j)
if (a[j] != b[j]) return a[j] - b[j];
return a.length - b.length;
}
});
pq.add(new MicrocontrollerState(minCost + P.get(0)[0], new Position(0, 0)));
// Imagine constructing a tree with K nodes, where the root is the cheapest cow. Each node contains
// the delta from its parent. The next cheapest cow can always be had by taking an existing node on
// the tree and varying a single microcontroller.
for (; K > 0; --K) {
MicrocontrollerState currentState = pq.remove(); // get the next best cow prototype.
long currentCost = currentState.getCost();
minCost += currentCost;
int i = currentState.getPosition().getRow();
int j = currentState.getPosition().getColumn();
// Our invariant to avoid double counting is to only add microcontrollers with "greater" position.
// Given a prototype, from our ordering, the best way to vary a single microcontroller is replace
// it with (i,j + 1) or add (i + 1, 0).
if (j + 1 < P.get(i).length) {
pq.add(new MicrocontrollerState(currentCost + P.get(i)[j + 1], new Position(i, j + 1)));
}
if (i + 1 < N) {
// Account for the special case, where we just use the cheapest version of type i microcontrollers.
// Thus, we remove i and add i + 1. This is better than preemptively filling the priority queue.
if (j == 0) pq.add(new MicrocontrollerState(
currentCost - P.get(i)[j] + P.get(i + 1)[0], new Position(i + 1, 0)));
pq.add(new MicrocontrollerState(currentCost + P.get(i + 1)[0], new Position(i + 1, 0)));
}
}
out.println(minCost);
out.close();
}
}
```

Sorting is $O(NM\log N)$. Polling from the priority queue is $O(K\log K)$ since each node will at most generate 3 additional nodes to put in the priority queue. So, total running time is $O(NM\log N + K\log K)$.

## 2013 USAMO Problem 2

Math has become a bit painful for me. While it was my first love, I have to admit that a bachelor's and master's degree later, I'm a failed mathematician. I've recently overcome my disappointment and decided to persist in learning and practicing math despite my lack of talent. This is the first USAMO problem that I've been able to solve, which I did on Friday. Here's the problem.

For a positive integer $n\geq 3$ plot $n$ equally spaced points around a circle. Label one of them $A$, and place a marker at $A$. One may move the marker forward in a clockwise direction to either the next point or the point after that. Hence there are a total of $2n$ distinct moves available; two from each point. Let $a_n$ count the number of ways to advance around the circle exactly twice, beginning and ending at $A$, without repeating a move. Prove that $a_{n-1}+a_n=2^n$ for all $n\geq 4$.

The solution on the AOPS wiki uses tiling. I use a different strategy that leads to the same result.

Let the points on the cricle be $P_1,P_2, \ldots,P_n$. First, we prove that each point on the circle is visited either $1$ or $2$ times, except for $A = P_1$, which can be visited $3$ times since it's our starting and ending point. It's clear that $2$ times is upper bound for the other points. Suppose a point is never visited, though. We can only move in increments of $1$ and $2$, so if $P_k$ was never visited, we have made a move of $2$ steps from $P_{k-1}$ twice, which is not allowed.

In this way, we can index our different paths by tuples $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_n)$, where $m_i$ is which move we make the first time that we visit $P_i$, so $m_i \in \{1,2\}$. Since moves have to be distinct, the second move is determined by the first move. Thus, we have $2^n$ possible paths.

Here are examples of such paths.

Both paths are valid in the sense that no move is repeated. However, we only count the one on the left since after two cycles we must return to $P_1$.

The path on the left is $(1,2,2,2,1)$, which is valid since we end up at $A = P_1$. The path on the right is $(1,1,1,1,1)$, which is invalid, since miss $A = P_1$ the second time. The first step from a point is black, and the second step is blue. The edge labels are the order in which the edges are traversed.Now, given all the possible paths with distinct moves for a circle with $n - 1$ points, we can generate all the possible paths for a circle with $n$ points by appending a $1$ or a $2$ to the $n - 1$ paths if we consider their representation as a vector of length $n - 1$ of $1$s and $2$s. In this way, the previous $2^{n-1}$ paths become $2^n$ paths.

Now, we can attack the problem in a case-wise manner.

- Consider an invalid path, $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1})$. All these paths must land at $P_1$ after the first cycle around the circle. Why? Since the path is invalid, that means we touch $P_{n-1}$ in the second cycle and make a jump over $P_1$ by moving $2$ steps. Thus, if we previously touched $P_{n-1},$ we moved to $P_1$ since moves must be distinct. If the first time that we touch $P_{n-1}$ is the second cycle, then, we jumped over it in first cycle by going moving $P_{n-2} \rightarrow P_1$.
- Make it $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1}, 1)$. This path is now valid. $P_n$ is now where $P_1$ would have been in the first cycle, so we hit $P_n$ and move to $P_1$. Then, we continue as we normally did. Instead of ending like $P_{n-1} \rightarrow P_2$ by jumping over $P_1$, we jump over $P_n$ instead, so we end up making the move $P_{n-1} \rightarrow P_1$ at the end.
- Make it $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1}, 2)$. This path is now valid. This case is easier. We again touch $P_n$ in the first cycle. Thus, next time we hit $P_n$, we'll make the move $P_n \rightarrow P_1$ since we must make distinct moves. If we don't hit $P_n$ again, that means we jumped $2$ from $P_{n-1}$, which means that we made the move $P_{n - 1} \rightarrow P_1$.

Consider an existing valid path, now, $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1})$. There are $a_{n-1}$ of these.

- Let it be a path where we touch $P_1$ $3$ times.
- Make it $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1}, 1)$. This path is invalid. $P_n$ will be where $P_1$ was in the first cycle. So, we'll make the move $P_n \rightarrow P_1$ and continue with the same sequence of moves as before. But instead of landing at $P_1$ when the second cycle ends, we'll land at $P_n$, and jump over $P_1$ by making the move $P_n \rightarrow P_2$.
- Make it $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1}, 2)$. This path is valid. Again, we'll touch $P_n$ in the first cycle, so the next time that we hit $P_n$, we'll move to $P_1$. If we don't touch $P_n$ again, we jump over it onto $P_1$, anyway, by moving $P_{n-1} \rightarrow P_1$.

Let it be a path where we touch $P_1$ $2$ times.

- Make it $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1}, 1)$. This path is valid. Instead of jumping over $P_1$ at the end of the first cycle, we'll be jumping over $P_n$. We must touch $P_n$, eventually, so from there, we'll make the move $P_n \rightarrow P_1$.
- Make it $(m_1,m_2,\ldots,m_{n-1}, 2)$. This path is invalid. We have the same situation where we skip $P_n$ the first time. Then, we'll have to end up at $P_n$ the second time and make the move $P_{n} \rightarrow P_2$.

In either case, old valid paths lead to $1$ new valid path and $1$ new invalid path.

- Let it be a path where we touch $P_1$ $3$ times.

Thus, we have that $a_n = 2^n - a_{n-1} \Rightarrow \boxed{a_{n - 1} + a_n = 2^n}$ for $n \geq 4$ since old invalid paths lead to $2$ new valid paths and old valid paths lead to $1$ new valid path. And actually, this proof works when $n \geq 3$ even though the problem only asks for $n \geq 4$. Since we have $P_{n-2} \rightarrow P_1$ at one point in the proof, anything with smaller $n$ is nonsense.

Yay, 2017!

## New Comment

## Comments

The sequence a_n in the USAMO problem is the Jacobsthal sequence (http://oeis.org/A001045). It is also stated in the page as well.

Cool, I did not know that. Thanks for the info.