Burst Balloons
The problem can be solved by using dynamic programming. We’ll break down the problem into simpler parts, and provide insights to understand the solution.
Understanding the Problem: You have a list of balloons, each having a number. You can burst a balloon and gain coins according to a specific formula. The goal is to maximize the coins collected by bursting the balloons in the right order.
Preparation: Add 1 at the beginning and end of the
nums
array to handle the edge cases of the problem. So the array becomes[1] + nums + [1]
.Dynamic Programming Table: Create a 2D DP table
dp
, wheredp[i][j]
represents the maximum coins for bursting balloons betweeni
andj
. The size of the table would be(n+2) x (n+2)
where n is the length of the originalnums
.State Transition: The DP state transition can be understood as:
dp[i][j] = max(dp[i][j], nums[i] * nums[k] * nums[j] + dp[i][k] + dp[k][j])
for every
k
betweeni
andj
. Here,k
represents the index of the balloon to be burst last in the range(i, j)
.Loop Structure: Loop from length = 3 to
n+2
, and then within that loop fromi = 0
ton+2length
. Inside these loops, use ak
loop to find the maximum coins for every segment(i, j)
.Final Result: The result is stored in
dp[0][n+1]
, which represents the maximum coins for the entire array.
Here’s a code that follows these steps:


Key Takeaways
 Using a dynamic programming approach helps in breaking down the problem into simpler parts.
 The creation of an extra boundary with 1’s around the original
nums
array simplifies the handling of edge cases.  The final result provides the maximum coins by bursting the balloons in an optimal order.
“Burst Balloons” requires understanding of dynamic programming, specifically 2D dynamic programming. Here are some simpler problems to prepare for it:
70. Climbing Stairs: This problem gives an introduction to the concept of dynamic programming.
96. Unique Binary Search Trees: This is a basic dynamic programming problem that introduces the concept of calculating the number of unique structures.
300. Longest Increasing Subsequence: This problem demonstrates how to use dynamic programming to find an optimal subsequence in an array.
1143. Longest Common Subsequence: A good problem for understanding the concept of 2D dynamic programming.
72. Edit Distance: Another standard problem demonstrating 2D dynamic programming.
64. Minimum Path Sum: This problem is about dynamic programming in a 2D grid, similar to the balloon problem but simpler.
516. Longest Palindromic Subsequence: This problem involves finding a subsequence in a 2D DP context.
322. Coin Change: This problem is a typical example of dynamic programming involving decision making at each step.
132. Palindrome Partitioning II: This problem involves dynamic programming with a string, but it introduces an important concept of precomputation that could be very useful.
221. Maximal Square: Another problem that involves dynamic programming in a 2D grid context, focusing on finding a maximal square.


Clarification Questions
Clarification questions help ensure that you fully understand the problem statement, constraints, and any potential edge cases. Here are some questions you might ask about this problem:
Boundary Handling: How should the program handle the edge cases where
i  1
ori + 1
goes out of bounds? (The problem does mention treating them as 1, but this can be a clarification to emphasize understanding.)Order of Bursting: Can the balloons be burst in any order, or is there a specific sequence that must be followed?
Uniqueness of Solution: Is there only one way to achieve the maximum coins, or could there be multiple bursting sequences that lead to the same maximum result?
Empty Input: What should the output be if the input array
nums
is empty?Single Element Handling: Is the approach for a single balloon in the array clear? (This is a common edge case, but the problem seems to cover it by using 1 when going out of bounds.)
Negative Numbers: Can the numbers on the balloons be negative, or will they always be nonnegative? (The problem specifies that they are nonnegative, but this could be a point for emphasis.)
Input Constraints: Are there any specific constraints on the input array’s length or the values within it? (The problem does state these constraints, but again, clarifying them ensures understanding.)
Output Format: What is the expected format of the output? Is it just the total maximum coins, or is there any need to detail the sequence of bursts?
Performance Expectations: Are there any specific performance requirements or limitations that need to be considered?
Duplicates Handling: How should the solution handle balloons with the same numbers painted on them? Does the presence of duplicate values affect the approach to find the maximum coins?
By asking these questions, you ensure that you understand all aspects of the problem, leading to a more robust solution.
Identifying Problem Isomorphism
“Burst Balloons” can be mapped to “Strange Printer”.
In “Burst Balloons”, you are given an array of numbers representing balloons. Each balloon can be burst to gain a score equal to the product of its two neighboring balloons’ values, and then the neighbors become adjacent to each other. The task is to find the maximum score that can be achieved.
Similarly, in “Strange Printer”, you are given a string. The printer can print a character and turn all contiguous same characters into that character at the same time. The task is to minimize the number of turns.
Both problems have the same core concept where an operation changes the context of subsequent operations. Also, both can be solved using dynamic programming with the concept of “divide and conquer”. But “Burst Balloons” is about maximizing the score by calculating the product, and “Strange Printer” is about minimizing the turns by counting. So, this mapping is approximate. “Burst Balloons” is simpler due to its numeric nature, making it easier to understand the context change caused by each operation.
Problem Classification
The problem falls under the domain of “Dynamic Programming and Combinatorial Optimization.” It involves optimizing a series of decisions (bursting balloons in a particular sequence) to maximize a certain value (coins).
The task is to burst balloons to maximize coins. This is a Maximization Problem with strategic element choice.
The ‘What’ Components
 Array of Numbers (
nums
): Represents the balloons, each with a painted number.  Burst Rule: Bursting the ith balloon gives you
nums[i  1] * nums[i] * nums[i + 1]
coins.  Boundary Rule: If
i  1
ori + 1
is out of bounds, consider it as 1.  Objective: Maximize the total number of coins obtained by bursting all balloons wisely.
Constraints
 Array length (
n
) is between 1 and 300.  Each element in
nums
is between 0 and 100.
 Optimization Problem: You need to maximize the coins you can get.
 Order Matters: The sequence in which you burst balloons matters.
 Subproblems Exist: You can break down the problem into smaller chunks. For example, you can first consider what is the maximum coins you can get by bursting only the first
i
balloons.  Variable Constraints: Limited by array size and element values.
The problem appears to be a classic example of Dynamic Programming, where you would build up a solution by considering the optimal solutions to subproblems. The need to maximize coins through a sequence of choices is characteristic of combinatorial optimization.
Problem Analysis and Key Insights
Order Matters: The order in which you burst the balloons significantly affects the total coins you collect. This implies that a simple greedy or sorting approach is unlikely to provide an optimal solution.
Subproblem Structure: The task can be broken down into smaller, overlapping subproblems (i.e., bursting a smaller set of balloons first), making it a good candidate for dynamic programming.
Boundary Handling: The problem has a special condition for handling boundaries, which suggests that edge cases need careful treatment. This also hints at the possibility of padding the array with ‘1’s at both ends to simplify calculations.
Constraints: The problem’s constraints (1 <= n <= 300 and 0 <= nums[i] <= 100) indicate that a polynomialtime solution is likely feasible. Given these constraints, an O(n^3) solution, for example, would be acceptable.
Objective Function: The goal is clear—maximize the total coins. This is a single, quantifiable objective, suggesting that an optimization algorithm is appropriate.
Multipliers are Neighbors: The coins gained from bursting a balloon depend on its immediate neighbors. This local dependency is a key insight for formulating a DP equation or recursive strategy.
Understanding these key insights will guide the algorithm design, helping you choose the right strategy to tackle the problem effectively.
Distilling the Problem to Its Core Elements
Fundamental Concept
The fundamental concept this problem is based on is “Dynamic Programming” (DP). Specifically, it relies on the principle of “Optimal Substructure,” meaning an optimal solution can be constructed efficiently from optimal solutions of its subproblems.
Simplest Description
You have a row of balloons, each with a number. You can burst any balloon to get coins, but the coins you get depend on the numbers of the adjacent balloons. The goal is to figure out the order in which to burst the balloons to get the most coins.
Core Problem
The core problem is to determine the optimal sequence for bursting all the balloons to maximize the total number of coins collected.
Key Components
 Array of Numbers: Representing the balloons.
 Burst Rule: The formula for calculating coins when a balloon is burst.
 Boundary Cases: What happens when you try to burst balloons at the ends of the array.
 Objective: Maximize total coins.
Minimal Set of Operations
 Initialize: Possibly pad the array with ‘1’s at both ends for easier calculations.
 Choose a Balloon: At each stage, decide which balloon to burst.
 Calculate Coins: Use the burst rule to calculate coins for the chosen balloon.
 Update Array: Remove the burst balloon and update the array.
 Recursion/DP: Use the previous steps’ results to make future decisions.
 Track Maximum: Keep track of the maximum coins collected through various sequences.
By systematically performing these operations, you’ll find the optimal solution to the problem.
Visual Model of the Problem
Visualizing this problem can be quite helpful for understanding its dynamics. Here are some ways to visualize it:
Number Line or Array Index
Initial State: Imagine a number line where each point represents a balloon with its respective number.
Balloons: 3 1 5 8 Index: 0 1 2 3
Burst Action: When you choose to burst a balloon, say at index
2 (Number 5)
, visualize removing that point from the line and calculating the coins you get. The coins are3*5*8 = 120
.Balloons: 3 1 8 Index: 0 1 2
Updated State: The remaining balloons would then shift, and you’d have a new number line.
Grid or Table for DP
2D Table: If using dynamic programming, each cell
(i, j)
can represent the maximum coins you can get by bursting balloons between indexi
andj
.Fill Logic: As you proceed, the table cells fill up based on the optimal choice of bursting the balloons within that range.
Tree Structure for Choices
Nodes as States: Each node in the tree represents a state of the balloon array.
Edges as Choices: The edge from one node to another represents the choice of bursting a specific balloon. The weight of the edge is the coins obtained.
StepbyStep Animation (if possible)
If you can code or draw it out, seeing the balloons “disappear” in the correct order and watching the coin count can be an enlightening way to understand the problem.
These visual methods can help conceptualize the problem’s dynamics, making it easier to approach solving it.
Problem Restatement
You have a list of balloons, each with a number on it. Your task is to pop all these balloons in a way that maximizes the total number of coins you collect. When you pop a balloon at position i
, the coins you get are calculated as the product of the numbers on the balloon to its immediate left, the balloon itself, and the balloon to its immediate right. If a balloon is at either end, and there’s no adjacent balloon on that side, you assume a ‘1’ for the calculation.
Requirements
 Burst all balloons to maximize the total coins.
 The coin calculation for bursting a balloon at index
i
isnums[i1] * nums[i] * nums[i+1]
.  If a balloon is at the end, consider a ‘1’ for any nonexisting adjacent balloons.
Constraints
 The array’s length is between 1 and 300.
 Each number on the balloons (array elements) ranges from 0 to 100.
This simplification sets the stage for solving the problem, clarifying what is to be achieved and the rules that govern the task.
Abstract Representation of the Problem
An abstract representation helps focus on the core problem without getting tangled in details.
Abstract Representation
Elements
Set ( S ): A finite ordered set representing entities, each associated with a value.
 ( S = { s_1, s_2, …, s_n } )
Function ( f ): A function that computes the ‘reward’ based on the product of an entity and its immediate neighbors in the set.
 ( f(s_i) = s_{i1} \times s_i \times s_{i+1} )
 Edge cases: ( s_0 = s_{n+1} = 1 )
Objective Function ( O ): Maximize the sum of all ‘rewards’ (( f(s_i) )) by choosing an optimal sequence for applying function ( f ) on all entities.
 ( O(S) = \text{maximize} \sum f(s_i) )
Constraints
 Once an entity ( s_i ) is used in function ( f ), it is removed from set ( S ).
 ( 1 \leq n \leq 300 )
 ( 0 \leq s_i \leq 100 )
Problem Statement
Find the sequence to apply ( f ) on all entities in ( S ) that maximizes ( O(S) ).
This abstract representation emphasizes the structure and the key components—Set ( S ), Function ( f ), Objective ( O ), and constraints—making it easier to think about algorithms that can solve it.
Terminology
Specialized Terms and Concepts
Dynamic Programming (DP): A method for solving complex problems by breaking them down into simpler subproblems. It’s crucial for finding the optimal solution efficiently in this problem.
Optimal Substructure: A property of a problem where the optimal solution can be constructed from the optimal solutions of its subproblems. This property is vital for applying DP.
Memoization: Storing the results of expensive function calls and reusing them when the same inputs occur again. Used to optimize the DP solution by avoiding redundant calculations.
Array Indexing: Refers to accessing an element in an array based on its location. Essential for applying the “burst rule” to get coins.
Burst Rule: The formula for calculating the coins when a balloon is burst, i.e.,
nums[i1] * nums[i] * nums[i+1]
. This is the core rule governing the “reward” in the problem.Boundary Conditions: These are the conditions that apply when an operation reaches the limit of the available data, like popping a balloon at either end of the array. Here, the rule specifies that you consider a ‘1’ for any nonexisting adjacent balloons.
Objective Function: A function that quantifies how well a solution serves the stated goal. Here, the objective function aims to maximize the total number of coins.
Constraints: The limitations under which a problem must be solved. Here, constraints refer to the length of the balloon array and the range of numbers painted on them.
State Space: All the possible conditions in which the system can exist. In this problem, it would refer to the various possible subarrays as balloons get burst.
Each of these terms and concepts plays a vital role in both understanding and solving the problem. They provide a framework for how to approach, analyze, and eventually solve it.
Problem Simplification and Explanation
Key Concepts:
Balloons with Numbers: Think of this as a line of balloons, each with a number written on it.
Popping Rule: When you pop a balloon, you earn “coins,” calculated as the number on the popped balloon multiplied by the numbers on its immediate neighbors.
Objective: Your goal is to pop all balloons in such a way that you collect the maximum number of coins.
Order Matters: The order in which you pop the balloons affects the total coins you collect.
How Concepts Interact:
 You start with a line of balloons, each with a number.
 You pop one balloon, calculate coins based on the popping rule, and the balloon is removed.
 Your choices for the next balloon to pop depend on which balloons are left.
 The game ends when all balloons are popped, and you want to maximize the coins you collect during this process.
Metaphor/Analogy:
Imagine you are at a carnival, and there’s a game where you can pop balloons to win tickets (our coins). However, the number of tickets you get isn’t just based on the balloon you pop but also on the balloons next to it. You want to strategize to get the most tickets possible by the end of the game. Some balloons are “jackpots” when they have highnumber neighbors, and some are better left for later. You need to decide the best sequence for popping to maximize your winnings.
This problem is about strategically choosing the sequence to maximize your reward, similar to optimizing your gameplay at a carnival to win the most tickets.
Constraints
Small Upper Bound: The maximum length of the balloon array is 300. This constraint can be exploited by using algorithms with time complexity higher than linear but manageable, like (O(n^2)) or (O(n^3)).
Limited Value Range: The numbers on the balloons range from 0 to 100. This range is manageable and can be used in calculations without worrying about overflow or underflow.
Edge Balloons: If a balloon is at the edge of the array, its missing neighbor is considered to have a value of 1. This consistency can be used to simplify calculations and edgecase handling.
Sequential Dependency: The value gained from popping a balloon depends on its immediate neighbors. This dependency suggests that the problem has an optimal substructure, suitable for dynamic programming.
Order Matters: The sequence in which you pop the balloons matters. Therefore, the problem has a combinatorial nature, which often lends itself well to recursive and DPbased solutions.
Nonnegative Values: All balloon numbers are nonnegative. This ensures that popping any balloon will not reduce the total coins, simplifying the objective function.
No Repetition: Once a balloon is popped, it is removed. This “onetime” nature simplifies state space and is a characteristic often wellsuited for DP solutions.
Associative Multiplication: The coin calculation involves multiplication, which is associative. This property may help in rearranging terms for more straightforward calculations.
By recognizing these specific characteristics, you can tailor your algorithmic approach to exploit them for efficiency. For instance, the small upper bound and optimal substructure strongly hint at the applicability of dynamic programming.
Manageable Size: With a maximum array length of 300, algorithms with cubic or quadratic time complexity can be considered for solving this problem.
Limited Value Scope: The numbers on the balloons range from 0 to 100. This allows us to focus on the algorithm rather than handling largenumber arithmetic or overflow issues.
Nonnegative Values: All balloon numbers are nonnegative, simplifying the objective function as popping any balloon won’t reduce the total coins.
Optimal Substructure: The problem’s sequential and dependent nature indicates that solutions to subproblems can contribute to the solution of the larger problem, making dynamic programming a likely effective approach.
Fixed Edge Value: The consistency in treating missing edge neighbors as ‘1’ simplifies edgecase handling.
By analyzing these constraints, we can deduce that the problem is wellsuited for dynamic programming techniques. The limited range of numbers and the small maximum size mean that we can focus more on algorithmic efficiency rather than worrying about computational limitations.
Case Analysis
Let’s go through some additional examples to understand different aspects of the problem better:
Test Cases
Single Balloon (Edge Case)
 Input:
[5]
 Output:
5
 Reasoning: There’s only one balloon, so you get 1 * 5 * 1 = 5 coins.
All Zeros (Boundary Condition)
 Input:
[0, 0, 0]
 Output:
0
 Reasoning: Popping any balloon will yield zero coins, no matter the order.
Mixed Zeros and NonZeros
 Input:
[3, 0, 2]
 Output:
6
 Reasoning: Popping the middle balloon first yields 0. Then pop the last, 3 * 2 * 1 = 6.
Increasing Order
 Input:
[1, 2, 3]
 Output:
8
 Reasoning: Pop the first balloon, 1 * 2 * 3 = 6. Then pop the last, 1 * 3 * 1 = 3. Total 6 + 3 = 9.
Decreasing Order
 Input:
[3, 2, 1]
 Output:
9
 Reasoning: Similar to the Increasing Order case, the output will be 9.
Random Order
 Input:
[2, 1, 4, 3]
 Output:
27
 Reasoning: Popping in the order of 1, 3, 2, 4 gives the most coins.
Edge Cases
 Single Balloon: This simplifies the problem, and you can directly return the value on the balloon.
 All Zeros: No matter the sequence, the result will be zero.
Key Insights
 Effect of Zero: A zero in the array makes its neighbors less valuable for popping. Aim to isolate zeros.
 Order Importance: The sequence of popping matters, and you must choose wisely to maximize coins.
 Edge Balloons: Popping edge balloons early might not be wise since their only neighbor has a fixed value of ‘1’.
 Associative Nature: Multiplication is associative, meaning you can rearrange numbers in calculations without changing the result.
These test cases and edge conditions ensure a robust solution that can handle all scenarios.
Visualizing these cases can help in better understanding and problemsolving. Here’s how you can visualize different scenarios:
Single Balloon (Edge Case): A single balloon in space. Nothing to its left or right, just a single point.
Balloon: [5]
All Zeros (Boundary Condition): Imagine three empty balloons next to each other, popping any gives you nothing.
Balloons: [0, 0, 0]
Mixed Zeros and NonZeros: Two full balloons with a deflated one in the middle.
Balloons: [3, 0, 2]
Increasing Order: Balloons of increasing sizes, from left to right.
Balloons: [1, 2, 3]
Decreasing Order: Balloons of decreasing sizes, from left to right.
Balloons: [3, 2, 1]
Random Order: Balloons of different sizes arranged randomly.
Balloons: [2, 1, 4, 3]
Visualization Approach
 Draw a straight line, placing dots or circles along it to represent balloons.
 Label each dot or circle with the value on the balloon.
 For each test case, you could use arrows or lines to indicate the sequence in which balloons are popped.
This visual approach helps to focus on the sequence and interactions among balloons. For instance, you’ll easily notice that zeros can “isolate” other numbers, or that edge balloons interact differently than those in the middle.
Identification of Applicable Theoretical Concepts
This problem involves several mathematical and algorithmic concepts that can make it more manageable:
Dynamic Programming: The overlapping subproblem structure makes Dynamic Programming (DP) a good fit for this problem. You can store intermediate results to avoid redundant computations.
Matrix Chain Multiplication: The structure of this problem resembles the classic Matrix Chain Multiplication problem, where the sequence of operations affects the result.
Recursion: The problem can be broken down into smaller subproblems, making recursion a possible approach, particularly recursive memoization.
Greedy Algorithms: While not the best fit for solving the problem, greedy algorithms might provide insights for a heuristic or approximate solutions.
Associativity of Multiplication: The operation is associative, i.e., the way numbers are grouped doesn’t change the result. This property can simplify the problem to some extent.
Optimization Techniques: Convexity or other optimization principles could be used to explore the problem’s mathematical structure further, although they might not lead to an optimal solution in this particular problem.
Graph Theory: One could represent the balloons as nodes in a graph, although the absence of some traditional graph properties like commutativity and constant edge weights make this less useful for this specific problem.
Boundary Conditions: Understanding the effect of ‘1’ as a boundary condition can simplify calculations. When you burst a balloon at the edge, you can directly use its value, multiplying it by 1.
Cartesian Product: If you view the problem in terms of sets, the number of coins gained from popping a balloon can be seen as a Cartesian product of the adjacent elements, though this is more of an explanatory model than a simplifying one.
Understanding these properties and techniques can guide you in developing an effective and efficient solution for the problem.
Simple Explanation
Imagine you have a row of balloons, each with a number written on it. You can pop any balloon you want, but you’ll get coins based on a rule: the number on the balloon you pop multiplied by the numbers on its immediate neighbors. If the balloon is at the edge, then we assume it has a neighbor with a number ‘1’.
Now, you want to pop all the balloons to collect as many coins as you can. But the order in which you pop them matters. For example, popping a balloon with a big number next to other big numbers will give you more coins than popping it next to a ‘1’.
The challenge is figuring out the best order to pop all the balloons to maximize the coins you collect.
To put it in everyday terms, it’s like choosing the order to open a series of gift boxes. Each box’s value depends on the boxes next to it. You want to open them in such a way that maximizes the total value of all the gifts you get.
Problem Breakdown and Solution Methodology
Let’s break down the process of solving this problem into smaller steps:
Steps to Solve the Problem
Initialization:
 First, pad the given array
nums
with1
s at both ends. This helps to treat boundary conditions uniformly.
 First, pad the given array
Dynamic Programming Table:
 Create a 2D table to store the maximum coins you can get by bursting balloons from index
i
toj
. Let’s call this tabledp
.
 Create a 2D table to store the maximum coins you can get by bursting balloons from index
Base Case:
 For any single balloon
i
,dp[i][i] = nums[i1] * nums[i] * nums[i+1]
.
 For any single balloon
Iterative Calculation:
 Iterate through the table, filling it with max coin values for subarrays of increasing lengths.
 For each subarray
(i, j)
, try bursting every balloonk
wherei <= k <= j
, and updatedp[i][j]
based on the coins obtained.
Result Extraction:
dp[1][n]
will hold the maximum coins you can get, wheren
is the original length ofnums
.
Metaphor
Think of each subarray (i, j)
as a minigame where you can burst balloons only within that range. Solve for smaller minigames first (subarrays), and use those solutions to win bigger minigames.
How Parameters Affect the Solution
 Array Length: Increasing
n
will make the problem more computationally intensive, as the DP table grows quadratically.  Array Values: Higher values in the array don’t affect the computational complexity but can lead to larger outputs.
Example Case
Consider the array nums = [3, 1, 5, 8]
.
Initialization: Pad
nums
to[1, 3, 1, 5, 8, 1]
.Dynamic Programming Table: Create a 2D table
dp
.Base Case: For a single balloon
i
, the value is determined solely by its immediate neighbors. E.g.,dp[2][2] = 1 * 1 * 3 = 3
.Iterative Calculation:
 For example, for the subarray
[3, 1, 5]
, the table values would be updated like this: If we burst 3 first, we get
1 * 3 * 1 + dp[1][1] = 3
.  If we burst 1 first, we get
3 * 1 * 5 + dp[3][3] = 18
.  If we burst 5 first, we get
1 * 5 * 1 + dp[1][1] + dp[3][3] = 5 + 3 + 18 = 26
.
 If we burst 3 first, we get
 Update
dp[1][3] = max(3, 18, 26) = 26
.
 For example, for the subarray
Result Extraction: The value at
dp[1][4]
would be our answer, which would be 167 in this case.
This way, you can solve for any given nums
to find the maximum coins you can collect by bursting the balloons wisely.
Inference of ProblemSolving Approach from the Problem Statement
Let’s identify the key terms and concepts:
Dynamic Programming (DP): This term suggests that the problem has overlapping subproblems and optimal substructure, making DP a good choice for solving it.
Subarray: This term informs us that we need to consider different sections of the array, which aligns well with the concept of subproblems in DP.
Bursting Balloons: The main operation to perform. It implies that once a balloon is burst, it affects the product calculation for the neighboring balloons.
Maximum Coins: The goal is to maximize this value, emphasizing the optimization aspect of the problem.
Boundary Conditions: “If i  1 or i + 1 goes out of bounds of the array, treat it as if there is a balloon with a 1 painted on it.” This constraint informs us about how to handle edge cases and guides the initialization of the problem.
Constraints on Array Length and Values: Knowing that
1 <= n <= 300
and0 <= nums[i] <= 100
gives us an idea about the problem’s scale and guides the choice of algorithm.
How They Guide the Approach
Dynamic Programming: The key strategy is to use DP to solve the problem. The overlapping subproblems occur when you have to calculate the max coins for the same subarray multiple times. Store these in a DP table to avoid redundant calculations.
Subarray: This concept maps naturally to the DP table where each cell
(i, j)
represents a subarray. This makes it easier to think in terms of subproblems.Bursting Balloons: This operation adds a layer of complexity as it affects adjacent balloons. This informs us that when considering a subarray, you need to also account for the balloons just outside the subarray boundaries, as bursting the edge balloons will involve them.
Maximum Coins: The optimization aspect indicates that for each subarray, we should consider all possible balloons to burst and choose the one that maximizes the coins.
Boundary Conditions: The padding of the array with
1
s at both ends directly addresses this constraint, simplifying the problem.Constraints on Array Length and Values: Given these constraints, a DP approach would be computationally feasible, as the maximum number of subproblems would be manageable.
Each of these key terms and concepts plays a specific role in informing the strategy and methods used to approach this problem.
Visualizing the problem with tables or diagrams can be quite effective. Here’s how you can represent the key concepts:
Dynamic Programming Table: Create a 2D table with rows and columns representing the start and end index of subarrays. Each cell
(i, j)
will contain the maximum coins you can get for the subarray fromi
toj
.Boundary Conditions: In the DP table, initialize the diagonal and boundary to handle edge cases. Alternatively, extend the array on both ends and represent this in the table to handle the “virtual” balloons with 1 painted on them.
Subarray Visuals: Consider marking cells in your 2D table as you fill them in to represent which subarray (or subproblem) you are solving. This way, you can visualize how smaller subarrays combine to form solutions for larger ones.
Optimal Choices: When you fill a cell
(i, j)
in the DP table, mark which choice gives the maximum coins (e.g., bursting which balloon last is optimal). You can use arrows or color coding for this.Constraints: If you want to represent the constraints visually, you can annotate regions of the DP table or array to indicate where certain conditions must be met.
Iteration Path: Use arrows to indicate the order in which cells in the DP table are filled. This can help you visualize the dependencies between subproblems.
Example Calculations: Alongside your table, you can have small diagrams or notes that show how you calculate the values in a specific cell. For instance, how do you derive the maximum coins for a subarray
(i, j)
? Show this calculation in a small corner.
By using such tables and diagrams, you make the abstract concepts more concrete, helping you to better understand and solve the problem.
Dynamic Programming (DP) is often useful when you have overlapping subproblems and optimal substructure, which means that an optimal solution to the problem can be constructed from optimal solutions of its subproblems.
Overlapping Subproblems: In this balloon problem, bursting one balloon changes the adjacent elements, creating a new smaller problem that resembles the original. You end up solving the same smaller problems multiple times. This redundancy is a cue for using DP.
Optimal Substructure: The maximum coins you can get by bursting balloons from
i
toj
depend on the maximum coins you can get in subranges. An optimal solution for range[i, j]
can be composed of optimal solutions for ranges[i, k]
and[k, j]
.Choice: At each step, you have a choice of which balloon to burst last. This decision affects the problem’s state, leading to multiple scenarios that you need to evaluate. DP is wellsuited for problems where you need to explore different choices and find the optimal one.
Ordering: The sequence in which you burst balloons matters, further indicating that the problem has inherent sequential ordering that DP algorithms are wellsuited for.
Memoization or Tabulation: The need to store solutions to subproblems so that you can avoid redundant calculations implies that memoization or tabulation (core components of DP) can be useful.
These properties collectively suggest that Dynamic Programming would be a good strategy for solving this problem.
Stepwise Refinement
Initial State Setup: Add a balloon with 1 painted on it at the beginning and the end of the array. This simplifies the calculations as you won’t have to handle edge cases separately.
DP Table Initialization: Create a 2D DP table
dp[i][j]
to store the maximum coins for each subarray[i, j]
. Initialize the diagonal of the DP table with the array values as they are the base cases.Nested Iteration: Iterate through the DP table to fill in the values for each subarray
[i, j]
. The outer loop iterates over the lengthl
of the subarray, while the inner loops iterate over starting indexi
and ending indexj
.Compute Subproblems: For each subarray
[i, j]
, iterate through all balloonsk
in[i+1, j1]
. Calculate the coins for bursting balloonk
last, considering that balloonsi
andj
are the adjacent balloons. Store the maximum value indp[i][j]
.Optimal Answer: The answer for the entire array is stored in
dp[0][n1]
, wheren
is the length of the modified array.
Granular Steps
Base Cases: Initialize
dp[i][i] = nums[i]
for alli
.Nested Loops: Use three loops:
 One for the length
l
of the subarray.  One for the starting index
i
.  One for the ending index
j
.
 One for the length
Fill DP Table:
 Loop through each
k
in[i+1, j1]
.  Calculate
coins = dp[i][k] + dp[k][j] + nums[i] * nums[k] * nums[j]
.  Update
dp[i][j] = max(dp[i][j], coins)
.
 Loop through each
Independent Parts
The subproblems [i, j]
and [i, k]
or [k, j]
are independent of each other given that k
is the last balloon to burst in [i, j]
. This makes it easier to parallelize, if needed.
Repeatable Patterns
Optimal Substructure: The way you calculate
dp[i][j]
using subarrays[i, k]
and[k, j]
is repeated for each[i, j]
.Overlapping Subproblems: You repeatedly use solutions for subarrays
[i, k]
and[k, j]
while calculating other larger subarrays.
By following these steps, you can efficiently solve the problem using Dynamic Programming.
Solution Approach and Analysis
Preliminary Setup: First, pad the array with a “1” at both ends, which simplifies the problem.
Dynamic Programming Table: Create a 2D table
dp
wheredp[i][j]
will store the maximum coins for bursting all balloons betweeni
andj
.Initialize Table: For subarrays of length 1, set
dp[i][i] = nums[i]
.BottomUp Calculation: Fill in the DP table from smaller subproblems to bigger ones. Loop through lengths from 2 to n (the array length). For each length, compute
dp[i][j]
for all validi
.Calculate Maximum Coins: For each subarray
[i, j]
, find the balloonk
to burst last. Updatedp[i][j]
to store the max coins. The formula is:dp[i][j] = max(dp[i][j], dp[i][k] + dp[k][j] + nums[i] * nums[k] * nums[j])
Retrieve Answer: The answer is stored in
dp[0][n  1]
.
Metaphor
Imagine a row of balloons as a necklace with beads. Each bead (balloon) has a value. The goal is to “unlock” the highest value by cutting the necklace at different points, and rejoining it in a way that maximizes the sum of the products of adjacent beads.
Changes in Parameters
Array Length: A longer array means more subproblems to solve, increasing computation time.
Array Values: Higher values make the maximum coins larger but don’t affect the time complexity.
Example
Consider nums = [3, 1, 5, 8]
. Pad it to [1, 3, 1, 5, 8, 1]
.
Initialize
dp
with zeros.dp[i][i] = nums[i]
for alli
. Thus,dp[1][1] = 3, dp[2][2] = 1, dp[3][3] = 5, dp[4][4] = 8
.For length 2, say
[1, 2]
, computedp[1][2]
:dp[1][2] = 1*3*1 = 3
For length 3,
[1, 3]
:dp[1][3] = max( 1*3*5 + dp[1][1] + dp[3][3], 1*1*5 + dp[1][2] + dp[2][3] ) = max(15 + 3 + 5, 5 + 3 + 1) = max(23, 9) = 23
Continue for all lengths and subarrays.
Final answer is
dp[1][5] = 167
.
This approach works efficiently to solve the problem.
Identify Invariant
The invariant in this problem is the idea that no matter which balloon you burst first, second, or third, and so on, the coins collected from bursting a particular balloon depend solely on its immediate neighbors at the time of bursting. In other words, the coins you get from bursting a balloon i
will always be nums[i1] * nums[i] * nums[i+1]
, regardless of the order in which other balloons are burst. This property remains consistent across all subproblems and is what makes dynamic programming a suitable approach for solving this problem.
Identify Loop Invariant
In the context of dynamic programming applied to this problem, a common loop invariant would be that, at the start of each iteration of your loop, the calculated maximum coins for all subproblems up to a certain length k
are correct. This ensures that the dynamic programming table is being filled out correctly, and it allows the algorithm to rely on previously computed values to solve larger subproblems.
For example, if you’re iterating through the list of balloons with a loop to fill out a DP table, the loop invariant would be that the DP values calculated so far are correct based on the balloons considered up to that point. This holds true before, during, and after each loop iteration.
The invariant and loop invariant are not the same for this problem.
Invariant: An invariant is a condition or property that remains unchanged regardless of the operations applied. For this problem, the invariant is that bursting a balloon
i
earns you coins equal tonums[i1] * nums[i] * nums[i+1]
, considering its immediate neighbors at the time of bursting. This holds true for any subproblem or any state of the game.Loop Invariant: A loop invariant is more specific and relates to the behavior of a loop in the algorithm. It’s a condition that holds true before and after each iteration of the loop. In the context of dynamic programming for this problem, the loop invariant could be that the maximum coins for all subproblems up to a certain length
k
have been correctly calculated before the next iteration of the loop.
In summary, the invariant relates to the problem’s inherent properties, while the loop invariant pertains to the properties of the algorithm used to solve the problem.
Identify Recursion Invariant
During recursion in solving this problem, an invariant exists similar to that in the loopbased dynamic programming approach. The invariant for recursion would be that for any subarray of balloons, the maximum coins that can be collected by bursting those balloons have been correctly calculated when the recursive call for that subarray returns.
This invariant ensures that recursive calls further down the call tree can reliably use the results of previous calls. Essentially, it makes sure that the partial solutions built up in the recursion tree are accurate and can be used to construct solutions for larger subproblems.
So in simple terms, at each recursive call, you can trust that the maximum coins for the subproblem you’re solving will be correct once that call returns. This is crucial for the problem to be solved correctly using recursion.
The invariant and the invariant during recursion are not the same for this problem.
Invariant: This refers to a property of the problem itself, which stays constant regardless of the solution approach. For this balloonbursting problem, the invariant might be that bursting a balloon
i
gives you coins equal tonums[i1] * nums[i] * nums[i+1]
, considering its immediate neighbors at the time of bursting. This holds true no matter which subproblem you’re looking at or which balloons have already been burst.Invariant During Recursion: This is specific to the recursive algorithm used to solve the problem. In this case, the invariant during recursion is that, for any subarray of balloons, the maximum coins that can be collected are correctly calculated when the recursive call for that subarray returns. This ensures that each recursive call can build upon the results of previous calls.
So while the first is a characteristic of the problem itself, the second is more a property of the algorithm you’re using to solve it.
Let’s see the loop invariant for the balloonbursting problem in a dynamic programming context. In this case, let’s assume we have a 2D DP table where dp[i][j]
will store the maximum coins we can collect by bursting balloons between i
and j
.


Let’s consider our loop invariant to be: “At the start of each iteration, dp[i][j]
contains the maximum coins that can be collected by bursting balloons between i
and j
.”
Initialization
Prior to the first iteration of the loop, all the values in dp
are initialized to zero. This trivially satisfies our loop invariant since there are zero balloons between i
and j
for all i
and j
, thus zero coins to collect.
Maintenance
To see that each iteration maintains the loop invariant, consider a nested loop that iterates through all possible subarrays i, j
and calculates dp[i][j]
.


Lines inside the innermost loop perform the appropriate action to maintain the loop invariant by considering all possible balloons that can be the last to burst in this subarray. The value of dp[i][j]
is updated to reflect the maximum coins that can be collected by bursting the balloons between i
and j
.
Termination
At termination, our loop invariant assures us that dp[0][n1]
will contain the maximum coins that can be collected by bursting all balloons from 0
to n1
, which is exactly what we want to prove for the correctness of our algorithm.
Thought Process
Identify the Core Problem: The main problem is to maximize coins gained by bursting balloons in a specific order.
Recognize Overlapping Subproblems: Realize that bursting a balloon divides the problem into two smaller subproblems: the balloons to the left and right of the burst balloon. This screams “Dynamic Programming” as the same subproblems will be solved multiple times.
State Definition: We need to define a state that represents the maximum coins we can collect by bursting balloons between
i
andj
.Transition Function: For each possible subarray
i, j
, we can try bursting all remaining balloons in that subarray and pick the one that maximizes our coins.Initialization: For a single balloon, the coins gained are its value times the values of its ’neighbors’ which are 1 if it’s on the edge.
Order of Calculation: We calculate smaller subarrays first so that we can use their results to solve larger subarrays.
Final Answer: The answer is stored in the state that represents all balloons (
dp[0][n1]
).
Code


Key Insights
Divide and Conquer: Bursting a balloon naturally divides the problem into two subproblems: balloons to its left and balloons to its right.
Overlapping Subproblems: We will end up solving the same subproblems multiple times. This suggests that Dynamic Programming would be efficient.
Bottomup Calculation: By solving smaller subproblems first (smaller subarrays), we ensure that we have all the needed information when solving bigger subproblems.
State and Transition: Our state
dp[i][j]
was crucial. The transition is the core part that moves from smaller to larger subproblems.
By paying attention to these cues, we naturally get directed towards a Dynamic Programming approach, which is usually a strong hint for many optimization problems.
Brute Force Solution
 One naive approach is to generate all possible orders of bursting balloons.
 For each order, calculate the total coins collected and keep track of the maximum coins gained.
Code


Inefficiencies
 Time Complexity: O(n!), as it examines all n! permutations.
 Space Complexity: O(n), to store each permutation.
StepbyStep Optimization
Recognize Overlapping Subproblems
 When you burst a balloon, you split the remaining balloons into two groups: left and right. You solve each group independently, leading to duplicated work.
Dynamic Programming to the Rescue
 DP can help to store the results of subproblems so that we don’t recalculate them.
Define States and Transitions
 Define
dp[i][j]
as the maximum coins for subarraynums[i:j]
.  To transition, consider bursting balloon
k
last in the subarray, leading to coinsnums[i1]*nums[k]*nums[j+1] + dp[i][k] + dp[k][j]
.
BottomUp Calculation
 Start with smaller subarrays and build up to the answer.
Code


Time and Space Complexity
 Time Complexity: O(n^3), as there are O(n^2) subproblems, and each takes O(n) time.
 Space Complexity: O(n^2) for the DP table.
Key Takeaways
 Identifying overlapping subproblems led us from a factorialtime solution to a polynomialtime solution.
 Dynamic programming efficiently handles those overlapping subproblems by storing and reusing partial answers.
Simple Explanation of the Proof
I’m having trouble understanding the proof of this algorithm. Could you explain it in a way that’s easy to understand?
Language Agnostic Coding Drills
This code represents a problem solving technique often referred to as Dynamic Programming (DP). DP is a powerful method where one solves simple subproblems and uses their solutions to construct solutions to larger problems. In this specific problem, we are trying to find the maximum number of coins we can get by bursting balloons.
Here’s the break down:
1. Understanding Problem Requirements: We need to understand the basic requirements of the problem. Here, it’s about finding the maximum number of coins by popping balloons.
2. Comprehension of Dynamic Programming: The core of this problem involves understanding the concept of dynamic programming. We need to know how to build a matrix that represents the best solution for smaller subproblems.
3. Array Manipulation: This involves understanding how to manipulate arrays, such as how to add elements to the beginning or end of an array, and how to initialize a 2D array.
4. Loops and Loop Nesting: Comprehend how to use nested loops, which is a loop inside another loop. In this code, three loops are nested inside each other.
5. Working with Indices and Subarrays: Understand how to work with indices in an array and how to utilize them to refer to subarrays.
6. Understanding the DecisionMaking Process: Grasp how to make decisions that influence the outcomes of the problem. Here, we are deciding which balloon to burst next.
7. Applying Dynamic Programming to Solve the Problem: This would involve putting all the concepts together and implementing the dynamic programming solution to calculate the maximum number of coins we can obtain by bursting the balloons.
8. Interpreting the Dynamic Programming Matrix: Finally, understand how to interpret the dynamic programming matrix to get the final solution.
By understanding these concepts and mastering the associated drills, you can effectively understand and solve such problems.
Targeted Drills in Python
1. Understanding Problem Requirements:
Problem: Write a function that finds the maximum number in a given list.


2. Comprehension of Dynamic Programming:
Problem: Implement a function to calculate the nth Fibonacci number using dynamic programming.


3. Array Manipulation:
Problem: Add an element at the start and end of the array.


4. Loops and Loop Nesting:
Problem: Print a multiplication table for numbers from 1 to 5.


5. Working with Indices and Subarrays:
Problem: Implement a function to get the sum of all subarrays in an array.


6. Understanding the DecisionMaking Process:
Problem: Implement a function that decides if a number is even or odd.


7. Applying Dynamic Programming to Solve the Problem:
Problem: Implement a function to calculate the minimum cost to climb a flight of stairs where each step has a cost, using Dynamic Programming.


8. Interpreting the Dynamic Programming Matrix:
Problem: Implement a function to calculate the number of unique paths in a grid from topleft corner to bottomright corner, considering only right and down movements.


You can use these drills as a foundation to better understand and implement the balloon popping problem. Each drill aims to reinforce a specific concept that is utilized in the solution.
Similar Problems
Here are 10 problems that use similar underlying concepts:
Longest Palindromic Subsequence: This problem is about finding the longest palindromic subsequence within a string. Like our original problem, it also uses dynamic programming to break down the problem into smaller subproblems and solve them optimally.
Climbing Stairs: While this problem may seem simpler, it involves the identification of overlapping subproblems and uses dynamic programming to optimize the solution, much like the balloon problem.
Coin Change: In this problem, you have to find the minimum number of coins that make a given amount. It uses dynamic programming and shares the same bottomup approach as our original problem.
Unique Paths: This problem is about counting all the unique paths from topleft to bottomright of a grid. Like our problem, it involves a grid of choices and uses dynamic programming to find an optimal path.
Matrix Chain Multiplication: You have to find the optimal way to multiply a given sequence of matrices. It uses dynamic programming in a manner quite similar to our balloon problem, considering all possible splits for optimization.
Minimum Path Sum: This problem involves a grid where you have to find the path from topleft to bottomright that minimizes the sum along the path. Dynamic programming is used to store and reuse subproblem solutions, similar to the balloon problem.
Longest Increasing Subsequence: Here, you need to find the longest subsequence of a given sequence in which the subsequence’s elements are in sorted order. It also breaks down into subproblems, making it similar to our original problem.
Partition Equal Subset Sum: This problem asks whether a given set can be partitioned into two subsets with equal sum. It’s similar because it uses dynamic programming to explore possible choices optimally.
Word Break: This problem involves breaking a string into words from a dictionary and uses dynamic programming to store subproblem solutions, like the balloon problem.
Maximum Product Subarray: This problem is about finding a contiguous subarray within a onedimensional array that has the largest product. Like our original problem, it also requires you to think about the local and global optimization, using dynamic programming.
Each of these problems involves dynamic programming, overlapping subproblems, or optimal substructure, making them relevant for someone who wants to deepen their understanding of these concepts.