Best Meeting Point

The problem is asking for the minimum total travel distance between the houses of the friends and the meeting point. You can solve this problem by finding the median of the x-coordinates and y-coordinates separately of all the friends’ locations. The meeting point will be at the median of these coordinates, and you can then calculate the Manhattan distance to this point.

Here’s a simple approach:

  1. Iterate through the grid and collect all x and y coordinates where there are friends (grid[i][j] == 1).
  2. Find the median of x and y coordinates. If the count is odd, the median is the middle element; if it is even, then it can be any value between the two middle elements.
  3. Calculate the total Manhattan distance to the median x and y coordinates.

Here’s the code:

class Solution:
    def minTotalDistance(self, grid: List[List[int]]) -> int:
        x_coords = []
        y_coords = []

        # Collect x and y coordinates
        for i in range(len(grid)):
            for j in range(len(grid[0])):
                if grid[i][j] == 1:

        # Sort the coordinates to find the median

        # Find the median
        x_median = x_coords[len(x_coords) // 2]
        y_median = y_coords[len(y_coords) // 2]

        # Calculate total distance using Manhattan distance formula
        distance = 0
        for x in x_coords:
            distance += abs(x - x_median)
        for y in y_coords:
            distance += abs(y - y_median)

        return distance

By finding the median of the coordinates and calculating the Manhattan distance, this code will give you the minimal total travel distance as required.

Identifying Problem Isomorphism

“Best Meeting Point” involves finding a point in a 2D grid that minimizes the sum of Manhattan distances between this point and all other points marked with 1 in the grid.

An isomorphic problem to this is “Shortest Distance from All Buildings” (#317 on LeetCode). The problem involves an urban area represented as a 2D grid. You are asked to find a building that is shortest in total distance from all other buildings. The distance is computed using the Manhattan distance where available positions are marked by 1 and obstacles by 2.

The isomorphism is in the concept of minimizing the sum of Manhattan distances in a 2D grid. Both problems involve determining an optimal point in the grid that minimizes the total distance to all other marked points. The algorithms for solving both problems involve grid traversal and calculation of Manhattan distances.

“Shortest Distance from All Buildings” is more complex due to the presence of obstacles that prevent direct paths, thus requiring a breadth-first search or similar algorithm to find the shortest paths. In contrast, the “Best Meeting Point” problem is simpler because it only involves finding the median points, without the need to consider obstacles.

10 Prerequisite LeetCode Problems

“296. Best Meeting Point” involves finding the optimal point in a grid to minimize travel distance. To prepare, it is helpful to understand graph traversal algorithms, matrix manipulation, and sorting algorithms. Here are ten simpler problems before this problem:

  1. “463. Island Perimeter” - A simple grid traversal problem to understand how to navigate a 2D matrix.

  2. “200. Number of Islands” - More practice with grid traversal, this time with a more complex task of counting separate groups of connected elements.

  3. “994. Rotting Oranges” - A breadth-first search (BFS) problem on a grid, good for understanding the concept of distance on a grid.

  4. “542. 01 Matrix” - Another BFS problem, this one involves finding distances to certain points in a grid.

  5. “286. Walls and Gates” - Similar to the previous problem but adds more conditions to grid traversal.

  6. “378. Kth Smallest Element in a Sorted Matrix” - Good practice for working with sorted matrices, and introduces binary search in the context of 2D grids.

  7. “1091. Shortest Path in Binary Matrix” - BFS problem that deals with finding the shortest path in a grid.

  8. “1293. Shortest Path in a Grid with Obstacles Elimination” - Similar to the previous problem, but with an added complexity of handling obstacles.

  9. “675. Cut Off Trees for Golf Event” - A complex grid traversal problem involving finding shortest paths to multiple points.

  10. “1631. Path With Minimum Effort” - A shortest path problem involving considering both path length and path “difficulty”.

Problem Classification

Problem Statement:Given an m x n binary grid grid where each 1 marks the home of one friend, return the minimal total travel distance. The total travel distance is the sum of the distances between the houses of the friends and the meeting point. The distance is calculated using Manhattan Distance, where distance(p1, p2) = |p2.x - p1.x| + |p2.y - p1.y|.

Example 1:

Input: grid = [[1,0,0,0,1],[0,0,0,0,0],[0,0,1,0,0]] Output: 6 Explanation: Given three friends living at (0,0), (0,4), and (2,2). The point (0,2) is an ideal meeting point, as the total travel distance of 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 is minimal. So return 6.

Example 2:

Input: grid = [[1,1]] Output: 1


m == grid.length n == grid[i].length 1 <= m, n <= 200 grid[i][j] is either 0 or 1. There will be at least two friends in the grid.

Analyze the provided problem statement. Categorize it based on its domain, ignoring ‘How’ it might be solved. Identify and list out the ‘What’ components. Based on these, further classify the problem. Explain your categorizations.

Clarification Questions

What are the clarification questions we can ask about this problem?

Identifying Problem Isomorphism

Can you help me with finding the isomorphism for this problem?

Which problem does this problem map to the corresponding isomorphic problem on Leetcode ?

Visual Model of the Problem

How to visualize the problem statement for this problem?

Problem Restatement

Could you start by paraphrasing the problem statement in your own words? Try to distill the problem into its essential elements and make sure to clarify the requirements and constraints. This exercise should aid in understanding the problem better and aligning our thought process before jumping into solving it.

Abstract Representation of the Problem

Could you help me formulate an abstract representation of this problem?

Given this problem, how can we describe it in an abstract way that emphasizes the structure and key elements, without the specific real-world details?


Are there any specialized terms, jargon, or technical concepts that are crucial to understanding this problem or solution? Could you define them and explain their role within the context of this problem?

Problem Simplification and Explanation

Could you please break down this problem into simpler terms? What are the key concepts involved and how do they interact? Can you also provide a metaphor or analogy to help me understand the problem better?


Given the problem statement and the constraints provided, identify specific characteristics or conditions that can be exploited to our advantage in finding an efficient solution. Look for patterns or specific numerical ranges that could be useful in manipulating or interpreting the data.

What are the key insights from analyzing the constraints?

Case Analysis

Could you please provide additional examples or test cases that cover a wider range of the input space, including edge and boundary conditions? In doing so, could you also analyze each example to highlight different aspects of the problem, key constraints and potential pitfalls, as well as the reasoning behind the expected output for each case? This should help in generating key insights about the problem and ensuring the solution is robust and handles all possible scenarios.

Identification of Applicable Theoretical Concepts

Can you identify any mathematical or algorithmic concepts or properties that can be applied to simplify the problem or make it more manageable? Think about the nature of the operations or manipulations required by the problem statement. Are there existing theories, metrics, or methodologies in mathematics, computer science, or related fields that can be applied to calculate, measure, or perform these operations more effectively or efficiently?

Problem Breakdown and Solution Methodology

Given the problem statement, can you explain in detail how you would approach solving it? Please break down the process into smaller steps, illustrating how each step contributes to the overall solution. If applicable, consider using metaphors, analogies, or visual representations to make your explanation more intuitive. After explaining the process, can you also discuss how specific operations or changes in the problem’s parameters would affect the solution? Lastly, demonstrate the workings of your approach using one or more example cases.

Inference of Problem-Solving Approach from the Problem Statement

How did you infer from the problem statement that this problem can be solved using ?

Stepwise Refinement

  1. Could you please provide a stepwise refinement of our approach to solving this problem?

  2. How can we take the high-level solution approach and distill it into more granular, actionable steps?

  3. Could you identify any parts of the problem that can be solved independently?

  4. Are there any repeatable patterns within our solution?

Solution Approach and Analysis

Given the problem statement, can you explain in detail how you would approach solving it? Please break down the process into smaller steps, illustrating how each step contributes to the overall solution. If applicable, consider using metaphors, analogies, or visual representations to make your explanation more intuitive. After explaining the process, can you also discuss how specific operations or changes in the problem’s parameters would affect the solution? Lastly, demonstrate the workings of your approach using one or more example cases.

Thought Process

Explain the thought process by thinking step by step to solve this problem from the problem statement and code the final solution. Write code in Python3. What are the cues in the problem statement? What direction does it suggest in the approach to the problem? Generate insights about the problem statement.

From Brute Force to Optimal Solution

Could you please begin by illustrating a brute force solution for this problem? After detailing and discussing the inefficiencies of the brute force approach, could you then guide us through the process of optimizing this solution? Please explain each step towards optimization, discussing the reasoning behind each decision made, and how it improves upon the previous solution. Also, could you show how these optimizations impact the time and space complexity of our solution?

Coding Constructs

Consider the following piece of complex software code.

  1. What are the high-level problem-solving strategies or techniques being used by this code?

  2. If you had to explain the purpose of this code to a non-programmer, what would you say?

  3. Can you identify the logical elements or constructs used in this code, independent of any programming language?

  4. Could you describe the algorithmic approach used by this code in plain English?

  5. What are the key steps or operations this code is performing on the input data, and why?

  6. Can you identify the algorithmic patterns or strategies used by this code, irrespective of the specific programming language syntax?

Language Agnostic Coding Drills

Your mission is to deconstruct this code into the smallest possible learning units, each corresponding to a separate coding concept. Consider these concepts as unique coding drills that can be individually implemented and later assembled into the final solution.

  1. Dissect the code and identify each distinct concept it contains. Remember, this process should be language-agnostic and generally applicable to most modern programming languages.

  2. Once you’ve identified these coding concepts or drills, list them out in order of increasing difficulty. Provide a brief description of each concept and why it is classified at its particular difficulty level.

  3. Next, describe the problem-solving approach that would lead from the problem statement to the final solution. Think about how each of these coding drills contributes to the overall solution. Elucidate the step-by-step process involved in using these drills to solve the problem. Please refrain from writing any actual code; we’re focusing on understanding the process and strategy.

Targeted Drills in Python

Now that you’ve identified and ordered the coding concepts from a complex software code in the previous exercise, let’s focus on creating Python-based coding drills for each of those concepts.

  1. Begin by writing a separate piece of Python code that encapsulates each identified concept. These individual drills should illustrate how to implement each concept in Python. Please ensure that these are suitable even for those with a basic understanding of Python.

  2. In addition to the general concepts, identify and write coding drills for any problem-specific concepts that might be needed to create a solution. Describe why these drills are essential for our problem.

  3. Once all drills have been coded, describe how these pieces can be integrated together in the right order to solve the initial problem. Each drill should contribute to building up to the final solution.

Remember, the goal is to not only to write these drills but also to ensure that they can be cohesively assembled into one comprehensive solution.


Similar Problems

Given the problem , identify and list down 10 similar problems on LeetCode. These should cover similar concepts or require similar problem-solving approaches as the provided problem. Please also give a brief reason as to why you think each problem is similar to the given problem.