Guess the Word
Identifying Problem Isomorphism
“Hangman” can be considered as a simple form to the problem “Guess the Word”. Both problems involve guessing a hidden word from a given list of words.
In “Guess the Word”, you are given a list of words and a function match(word)
that returns the number of matching characters between the target word and the guessed word. You need to find the target word with the minimum number of guesses.
Similarly, in “Hangman”, you are given a hidden word and a list of guesses. The game gives feedback after each guess in the form of partially filled words showing where the guessed letters exist in the target word. Your goal is to find the target word with the minimum number of wrong guesses.
Both problems require a strategic selection of the next guess based on the information gained from the previous guesses. However, “Guess the Word” is more complex due to the requirement to minimize the total number of guesses and the fact that the feedback from the match(word)
function is less informative than the feedback in “Hangman”.
While the strategies for these problems could have similarities, the implementations will certainly differ due to the differing feedback mechanisms and end conditions.


The problem can be thought of as a detective game where you are trying to guess a secret word from a list of possible words. It’s as if you are a contestant on a game show, where after each guess, the host (Master.guess()) provides feedback on how many letters of your guess match the secret word in the right positions.
Step 1: Choose a Starting Word
The first step in this game is to choose a word to guess. The choice of word can have a significant impact on how quickly we can narrow down the list of possibilities. A simple approach would be to start with the first word in the list. A more advanced strategy could involve choosing a word that shares many common characters with the other words in the list.
Step 2: Make a Guess
The next step is to use the Master.guess() function to guess the word chosen in step 1. The function will return the number of characters in the guessed word that match the secret word in the exact position.
Step 3: Narrow Down the List
Based on the feedback from the guess, we can narrow down the list of possible secret words. If Master.guess() returns a match count of 6, then we know that we have found the secret word and we are done. If not, we can eliminate words from our list that don’t match the same number of characters as our guess. For example, if we guessed “acckzz” and received a match count of 3, we can remove any word from our list that doesn’t share exactly three letters in the same position with “acckzz”.
Step 4: Repeat
Repeat steps 13 with the reduced list of possible words until the secret word is found or we run out of allowed guesses. Each iteration should help us eliminate possible words and bring us closer to the secret word.
Effect of Problem Parameters
The number of allowed guesses is a key parameter in this problem. If the number of guesses is less than the size of the word list, we need to be more strategic in our guesses to ensure that we can identify the secret word within the allowed limit. On the other hand, if the number of allowed guesses is larger than the word list size, we could potentially guess every word in the list.
Example Case
Let’s consider the example case where the secret word is “acckzz”, the words list is [“acckzz”,“ccbazz”,“eiowzz”,“abcczz”], and the allowed guesses are 10.
We could start by guessing “acckzz”. Master.guess(“acckzz”) would return 6 since it’s the secret word, and we are done. But let’s assume we guessed “ccbazz” first. Master.guess(“ccbazz”) would return 3, so we could eliminate “eiowzz” from our list (since it only shares 2 letters in the same position with “ccbazz”) and repeat the process with [“acckzz”,“ccbazz”,“abcczz”]. This would eventually lead us to the correct guess “acckzz”.
Problem Classification
Domain: This problem can be categorized under the domain of ‘Guessing Games’ or ‘Word Games’ as it involves guessing a secret word from a given set of words. It also contains elements of interaction or querying, where your actions (guesses) yield information that helps you refine your future actions.
‘What’ Components:
a. Input: We have an array of unique strings,
words
, where each word is six letters long. One of these words has been chosen as the secret word. We are also given a helper objectMaster
that we can use to guess words and receive feedback. Furthermore, there is a parameterallowedGuesses
which indicates the maximum number of times we can callMaster.guess(word)
.b. Output: The objective is to call
Master.guess
with the secret word within theallowedGuesses
limit. The output will be either a success message if we have guessed the secret word correctly, or a failure message if we have exhausted our allowed guesses or did not guess the secret word.c. Constraints: The length of
words
is between 1 and 100. Each string inwords
is of length 6 and consists of lowercase English letters. All the strings ofwords
are unique. The secret word exists inwords
. TheallowedGuesses
is between 10 and 30.Classification:
This problem can be further classified as a ‘search’ problem, where the goal is to find a specific element (the secret word) within a set of elements (the words array). It also has aspects of ‘interaction’ and ‘strategy’, as we need to make intelligent guesses based on the feedback from
Master.guess
. Our strategy for guessing needs to be efficient, as the number of guesses we can make is limited.In terms of computational problems, it could also be considered as an ‘optimization’ problem, since we’re trying to find the secret word using the minimum number of guesses, and a ‘decision’ problem, as we’re making decisions based on the feedback we receive.
Problem Simplification and Explanation
Imagine you’re at a party, and your friend decides to play a word guessing game. Your friend chooses a secret word out of a unique list of words, each word being 6 letters long. Your task is to guess this secret word.
To make it more interesting, your friend gives you a magic device, let’s call it “the Word Oracle”. You can ask the Word Oracle if a word you choose is the secret word. The Oracle won’t tell you if you’re right or wrong directly, but it will tell you how many letters in your guessed word exactly match (in value and position) with the secret word. So, if your guess is “animal” and the secret word is “anemia”, the Oracle will return ‘4’ because ‘a’, ’n’, ‘i’, and ‘a’ (4th position) are common to both.
However, the Oracle has a limit on how many times it can be asked. You are allowed to make only a certain number of guesses. If you haven’t guessed the secret word within these limits, you lose. If you guess correctly within the allowed number of guesses, you win.
Your goal is to devise a strategy that can help you guess the secret word within the allowed limit. Since the Oracle provides feedback on each guess (number of matching letters), you can use this information to narrow down your subsequent guesses. You could start by guessing words that share many letters in common, and adjust your guesses based on the feedback you receive from the Oracle.
Remember, all words are unique and 6 letters long, which means a good strategy could involve focusing on the words that share the most letters with your previous guess. Also, the feedback from the Oracle will help you understand which letters are likely part of the secret word, and their possible positions.
It’s like playing a game of Mastermind, where you’re trying to guess the secret code (word) based on the feedback you receive from each guess.
Constraints
Here are a few characteristics of the problem and constraints that can be exploited to design an efficient solution:
Fixed Word Length: All the words in the list are of fixed length, 6 characters. This could be leveraged to devise efficient comparison strategies, like comparing positions of characters.
Limited Alphabet: The words consist of lowercase English letters only. Since the English alphabet contains only 26 letters, this limits the possibilities when checking for matches or differences.
Unique Words: All the strings in the wordlist are unique. This removes the need to handle duplicate words.
Guess Feedback: The Master.guess(word) method returns the number of exact matches (value and position). This feedback can be used to intelligently eliminate nonsimilar words from subsequent guesses.
Allowed Guesses Range: The number of allowed guesses ranges from 10 to 30. This implies that a brute force approach of guessing every word might not be viable for larger word lists. However, for smaller lists, it might be feasible to simply guess every word.
Wordlist Size: The size of the wordlist is between 1 and 100. This relatively small size allows for solutions that might not be efficient for very large lists.
Existence of the Secret Word: The secret word is guaranteed to exist in the list. This assures that there’s always a correct guess possible.
Considering these characteristics, an approach that starts by selecting a word and then refines the list of possible secret words based on the feedback from Master.guess(word) would likely be a good strategy. One could also consider a strategy based on the frequency of characters in the same position across the word list. The goal would be to optimize the information gained from each guess.
Thought Process
This problem is essentially a guessing game where the objective is to guess a secret word from a list of words. The game gives feedback in terms of the number of characters in your guess that match the secret word both in position and value.
One key insight is that the game gives us some information with each guess, which we can use to narrow down the possibilities for the next guess. If we guess a word and the game returns a match of ‘k’, we can eliminate all the words from our list that don’t match the guessed word in exactly ‘k’ positions.
The match
function is used to count the number of matching characters in the same position between two words. We start by considering all words in wordlist
as possible secret words. We then make a guess (in this simple solution, we just choose randomly from the list of possible words), and based on the response from master.guess(guess)
, we filter the list of possible words to only those that have the same number of matching characters with our guess. This process is repeated until we find the secret word or we have used all our 10 guesses.
The cues in the problem statement that suggest this approach are mainly the feedback mechanism (i.e., the number of matching characters with the secret word) and the fact that all words are guaranteed to be unique. These suggest an approach where we progressively eliminate impossible words based on the feedback we receive.
Clarification While the game allows for up to 10 guesses to find the secret word, your algorithm doesn’t have to find it within 10 guesses. The goal is not to limit the number of guesses but rather to design an algorithm that reduces the number of guesses needed. The fewer the guesses, the better.
Idea You can guess the secret word up to 10 times or until you find the secret word, whichever comes first. Since there’s no guarantee to find the secret word within 10 guesses, the strategy is to narrow down the list of potential words after each guess. In essence, you want to create an algorithm that incrementally reduces the number of candidate words after each guess.
This leads to the following pseudocode:
for(int i = 0, matches = 0; i < 10 && matches != 6; i ++){
matches = master.guess(a word in candidates);
reduce the number of words in candidates
}
After each guess, you keep only the candidates that have the exact number of character matches with the guessed word. This process is essential because it shrinks the pool of candidates and ensures that the secret word is still among the remaining candidates.
Now, the pseudocode becomes:
for(int i = 0, matches = 0; i < 10 && matches != 6; i ++){
matches = master.guess(a word in candidates);
for(String candidate: candidates){
if(matches == getMatches(candidate, word)){
tempCandidates.add(candidate);
}
}
candidates = tempCandidates;
}
You’ll also need a helper method to calculate the number of matches between two words:
int getMatches(String word1, String word2){
int matches = 0;
for(int i = 0; i < 6; i ++){
if(word1.charAt(i) == word2.charAt(i)){
matches ++;
}
}
}
When it comes to selecting a word for the guess, you can either pick the first candidate each time or randomly select one. According to the analysis of the likelihood of certain situations, both options result in the same 75.70% chance of finding the secret word within 10 guesses due to the random nature of the word list. However, since the number of test cases and words in the wordlist are limited, the second option of random selection is statistically more favorable.
The final pseudocode looks like this:
for(int i = 0, matches = 0; i < 10 && matches != 6; i ++){
matches = master.guess(randomly select a word in candidates);
for(String candidate: candidates){
if(matches == getMatches(candidate, word)){
tempCandidates.add(candidate);
}
}
candidates = tempCandidates;
}
 Code The corresponding Python code might look like this:


 Complexity The time complexity of this solution is O(n), as you’re making at most 10 passes over the word list. The space complexity is also O
(n), as a new list of candidates is created after each guess.
Solution Approach and Analysis
The problem can be thought of as a detective game where you are trying to guess a secret word from a list of possible words. It’s as if you are a contestant on a game show, where after each guess, the host (Master.guess()) provides feedback on how many letters of your guess match the secret word in the right positions.
Step 1: Choose a Starting Word
The first step in this game is to choose a word to guess. The choice of word can have a significant impact on how quickly we can narrow down the list of possibilities. A simple approach would be to start with the first word in the list. A more advanced strategy could involve choosing a word that shares many common characters with the other words in the list.
Step 2: Make a Guess
The next step is to use the Master.guess() function to guess the word chosen in step 1. The function will return the number of characters in the guessed word that match the secret word in the exact position.
Step 3: Narrow Down the List
Based on the feedback from the guess, we can narrow down the list of possible secret words. If Master.guess() returns a match count of 6, then we know that we have found the secret word and we are done. If not, we can eliminate words from our list that don’t match the same number of characters as our guess. For example, if we guessed “acckzz” and received a match count of 3, we can remove any word from our list that doesn’t share exactly three letters in the same position with “acckzz”.
Step 4: Repeat
Repeat steps 13 with the reduced list of possible words until the secret word is found or we run out of allowed guesses. Each iteration should help us eliminate possible words and bring us closer to the secret word.
Effect of Problem Parameters
The number of allowed guesses is a key parameter in this problem. If the number of guesses is less than the size of the word list, we need to be more strategic in our guesses to ensure that we can identify the secret word within the allowed limit. On the other hand, if the number of allowed guesses is larger than the word list size, we could potentially guess every word in the list.
Example Case
Let’s consider the example case where the secret word is “acckzz”, the words list is [“acckzz”,“ccbazz”,“eiowzz”,“abcczz”], and the allowed guesses are 10.
We could start by guessing “acckzz”. Master.guess(“acckzz”) would return 6 since it’s the secret word, and we are done. But let’s assume we guessed “ccbazz” first. Master.guess(“ccbazz”) would return 3, so we could eliminate “eiowzz” from our list (since it only shares 2 letters in the same position with “ccbazz”) and repeat the process with [“acckzz”,“ccbazz”,“abcczz”]. This would eventually lead us to the correct guess “acckzz”.
Identification of Applicable Theoretical Concepts
Indeed, there are a few concepts and methodologies that can be useful in solving this problem:
Hamming Distance: Hamming distance is a metric used to measure the difference between two strings of equal length. It is defined as the number of positions at which the corresponding symbols are different. In this problem, when Master.guess() returns a value, it essentially gives the inverse of the Hamming distance between the guessed word and the secret word.
Information Gain / Entropy: In each round, we can measure the information gain, a concept from information theory. The idea is that with each guess, we learn something about the secret word, and this ‘something’ can be quantified as information gain. The word that could potentially provide the maximum information gain (reduce the uncertainty the most) can be chosen as the next guess. However, calculating information gain might be computationally expensive given the problem’s constraints.
Greedy Algorithms / Heuristics: Given the number of allowed guesses is relatively small, one could think of designing a heuristic to make an educated guess each time. A simple example could be always choosing the word that has the most letters in common with the largest number of other words.
Minimax Algorithm: If we see this problem as a zerosum game between us and an opponent who chooses the feedback for our guesses, we could think about using a minimax strategy. We choose our guess to minimize the maximum possible size of the word list in the next round.
Binary Search / Guess and Check: In each step, we guess a word and check the response to eliminate a number of candidates. This is similar to the binary search algorithm, where we make a guess (check the middle element), get a response (whether the target is smaller, equal, or larger), and eliminate half of the candidates.
These are a few concepts that could be used. However, the constraints of the problem should be considered when deciding which approach to take. Some might be too computationally expensive given the problem’s size and the number of allowed guesses.
Language Agnostic Coding Drills
Variable declaration and assignment (Difficulty: Low)  This is a very basic concept involving the creation of variables and assigning values to them. For example, creating the
candidates
list that initially contains all the words.Function definition (Difficulty: Low)  There are two functions (
pair_matches
andmost_overlap_word
) defined inside the main methodfindSecretWord
. Understanding how to define a function and use it later is an essential programming concept.List comprehension (Difficulty: Low)  Python list comprehensions are used in this code to create new lists based on existing lists, applying conditions or transformations to their elements. For example, filtering the candidates with the same matches.
Loops and Iteration (Difficulty: Low/Medium)  There are multiple examples of
for
loops to iterate over the lists and the words, as well as awhile
loop that continues until a condition is met.Builtin functions and methods (Difficulty: Medium)  This code makes use of builtin Python functions like
enumerate
,ord
,zip
, andsum
. Understanding these functions and knowing when to use them is an important part of Python programming.Conditionals and comparisons (Difficulty: Medium)  There are various conditional statements (
if
) and comparison operators (==
) in the code. They are used to control the flow of the program and to perform operations based on certain conditions.Character and ASCII manipulation (Difficulty: Medium)  The use of the
ord
function to convert characters to their ASCII values, and using this for array indexing, is a more advanced concept.Nested list (2D list) (Difficulty: Medium/High)  The
counts
variable is a 2D list (list of lists), and understanding how to create, access, and manipulate 2D lists is a slightly more advanced concept.Optimization through overlap count (Difficulty: High)  The function
most_overlap_word
represents a somewhat advanced concept of optimization. It calculates the overlap of each word with the others in terms of characters in the same positions, and chooses the word with the most overlap as the best guess.
The problemsolving approach:
First, the problem can be modeled as a process of elimination where we start with a list of possible candidates (the wordlist) and, through a series of guesses, eliminate those that don’t match the criteria.
The
pair_matches
function is a helper function that counts the number of matching characters in the same positions between two words. It’s used to filter out candidates.The
most_overlap_word
function is the core of our strategy. It tries to maximize the information gained from each guess. It selects the word with the highest count of overlapping characters at each position with the other words as the next guess. The rationale is that a word with more overlaps will likely have more matches with the secret word.We keep making guesses and updating our candidate list until we’ve guessed the correct word or we’ve run out of guesses. Each guess is based on the current list of candidates. After a guess, we filter our list of candidates to include only the words that have the same number of matches as our guess.
This approach combines several coding concepts to achieve a practical solution for the problem. It involves iteration, function calls, conditional statements, and optimization strategies. Each individual coding concept serves as a step towards the overall solution.
Coding Constructs
Highlevel problemsolving strategies: The code essentially implements a form of guided search using a process of elimination and some probabilistic reasoning. It optimizes each guess to likely eliminate a maximum number of incorrect possibilities from the candidate list.
Explanation for a nonprogrammer: Imagine you’re playing a game where you have to guess a secret word. You’re allowed to make a certain number of guesses, and after each guess, you’re told how many letters in your guess match the secret word in both position and character. The purpose of this code is to help you make the best guess each time, by picking the word that has the most common letters with the remaining possibilities. This way, you can learn the most from each guess and increase your chances of guessing the secret word correctly within the given limit.
Logical constructs: The code uses constructs like loops (for iterating over data), conditionals (for making decisions based on certain criteria), function definitions (for modularizing and organizing the code), and variables (for storing and manipulating data). It also uses certain algorithmic techniques like counting frequencies, filtering data based on conditions, and optimizing selections based on certain criteria.
Algorithmic approach in plain English: The code starts with a list of all possible words. It then enters a loop where it repeatedly makes a guess, receives feedback, and eliminates unlikely candidates. The guess is not random; it’s the word that shares the most letters at the same positions with the remaining words. After guessing, it uses the feedback (the number of matching letters) to filter out words that can’t possibly be the secret word. The process repeats until the secret word is found or the guesses run out.
Key steps or operations: The code first initializes the list of candidates to the entire wordlist. Then, it enters a loop where it selects a guess (the word with the most overlaps), makes the guess, and receives feedback. It then uses this feedback to filter the candidates (removing words with a different number of matches). This loop repeats until the secret word is found or the guesses are exhausted.
Algorithmic patterns or strategies: The code employs a form of “greedy” algorithm, where it makes the locally optimal choice at each step with the hope that these local optimizations will lead to a global optimum. It also uses an element of “probabilistic reasoning” (selecting the guess with the most overlaps) to guide the search. Another algorithmic pattern used here is “filtering” or “elimination”, where it systematically reduces the search space based on the feedback from each guess.
Targeted Drills in Python
Looping through data: An essential concept in almost all programming tasks is the ability to loop through data and perform some operation on each element.
List comprehension: This is a powerful Python feature that allows us to concisely create and manipulate lists.
Filtering lists based on a condition: This is often used in conjunction with list comprehension to create a new list from an existing one, keeping only elements that satisfy a certain condition.
Counting frequencies: This involves iterating over a collection of items and keeping track of how many times each item appears.
Finding the max/min element in a list: Often, we need to find the element in a list that has the highest or lowest value according to some criterion.
Function definition and usage: Defining and using functions is a crucial part of structuring code in a clear, reusable, and modular way.
Here are Pythonbased drills for each concept:
 Looping through data


 List comprehension


 Filtering lists based on a condition


 Counting frequencies


 Finding the max/min element in a list


 Function definition and usage


Now, the problemspecific concept for our case is counting the number of matching characters in two strings. Here’s a Python drill for that:


Having developed an understanding of these smaller concepts and created the corresponding Python drills, we can now integrate these concepts to solve the original problem. We can follow the approach we discussed earlier, i.e., making the best guess at each step (the word that overlaps with most other words) and filtering the list of candidates based on the feedback from each guess. Each step in this process involves one or more of the coding drills we’ve practiced, so it’s just a matter of assembling these pieces in the right order.
Q&A
Why did the solution that you provided failed whereas the one I provided passed all the test cases? What did you miss?
The main difference between the two solutions lies in the method used to select the guess word.
In the solution I provided, the guess word was selected randomly from the candidate words. This might lead to a case where the guess word is poorly matched with the secret word, and consequently, the algorithm may take more attempts to find the secret word.
On the other hand, the solution you provided selects the guess word in a more sophisticated way: it chooses the word that has the maximum overlap with other words in the candidate list (i.e., the word that shares the most letters in the same positions with other words). This strategy can potentially reduce the number of guesses needed, as it maximizes the chance of matching more letters with the secret word in each guess. This can be particularly effective when the number of allowed guesses is relatively small.
This demonstrates the importance of a careful and strategic selection of guess words in this problem. By ensuring that the guess word has a higher likelihood of matching letters with the secret word, you can maximize the efficiency of your algorithm and increase the chance of guessing the secret word within the limit of allowed guesses.
How can we recognize that this problem needs to use the maximum overlap with other words from the problem statement?
Recognizing that this problem needs to use the maximum overlap strategy might not be straightforward from the problem statement alone. However, it becomes apparent once you start thinking about how to optimize the process of guessing the secret word. Here are a few cues from the problem statement:
Number of Allowed Guesses: The problem puts a limit on the number of guesses allowed. This limit might not be high enough to guess each word in the word list once. This suggests the need for an optimized strategy that maximizes the effectiveness of each guess.
Word Match Return Value: The
Master.guess()
function doesn’t simply return a correct or incorrect guess; it provides the number of exact matches. This is valuable information that can be used to narrow down the list of possible secret words.Words of Same Length and Characters: The fact that all words are the same length and composed of lowercase English letters indicates there could be overlaps among the words, which can be utilized.
NonBrute Force: The problem explicitly mentions that a reasonable strategy, other than brute force, can guess the secret word. This implies that there’s a smarter way to guess than just randomly trying out all words.
Once you’ve recognized these cues, you might start thinking about how to use the information given (e.g., the number of exact matches from Master.guess()
) to reduce the set of candidate secret words in an efficient manner. Then, the strategy of guessing the word that has the most overlap with others comes into play. By using this strategy, you increase the chances that your guess shares more characters with the secret word, therefore maximizing the utility of each guess.
Binomial Distribution
In the provided problem, we’re dealing with a Binomial Distribution, which is a type of probability distribution that describes the number of successes in a fixed number of independent Bernoulli trials with the same probability of success.
The formula you’ve given is the probability mass function (PMF) of the binomial distribution. Here’s what each part of it represents:
C(6, x)
: This is a combination which tells us the number of ways we can choosex
successful outcomes from6
total trials.(1/26)^x
: This is the probability of gettingx
successes, where the probability of success on each trial is1/26
(since we have a 26sided die).(25/26)^(6x)
: This is the probability of the remaining6  x
trials being failures, where the probability of failure on each trial is25/26
(since 25 out of 26 outcomes will not match our target letter).
So, to sum up, p(x) = C(6, x) * (1/26)^x * (25/26)^(6x)
gives us the probability of having exactly x
matching characters when we compare two randomly chosen words. This concept is fundamental to the strategy employed in the problem’s solution, where we try to maximize the overlap between words to efficiently narrow down the list of possible secret words.
Great job on connecting these statistical concepts to this coding problem! It really illustrates how deep understanding and interdisciplinary thinking can improve problemsolving strategies.
Indeed, the statistical concept of the binomial distribution is a crucial component in the logic of the solution to the problem. While identifying theoretical concepts related to this problem, we focused on the computer science concepts of string matching and reduction of search space.
However, the intersection of statistics and computer science in this problem is notable. The process of optimizing our guess to maximize the reduction in search space relies heavily on the concept of binomial distribution and probability theory. In more advanced algorithmic problems like this one, the blending of mathematical theory and computational logic is not uncommon, and it’s a valuable skill to be able to recognize and apply these intersecting concepts.
That’s an excellent simplification and provides additional insight into the strategy behind the guessing algorithm.
To clarify for anyone still confused:
This solution is rooted in statistical probability. Each word in the list can have a match count of 0 to 6 with another word. The probability of having 0 matches (i.e., no characters in the same position are the same) is about 80%. The probability of having 1 match is much lower at approximately 3.6%, and the probability decreases further for higher matches.
If we always guess a word that has a high nonzero match count with other words, we’re maximizing the chance that the guess is not completely wrong (i.e., master.guess(selected) != 0). In turn, this allows us to eliminate a larger portion of the word list with each guess, on average.
In the context of this problem, having more nonzero matches means there is a higher chance that these words could be the secret word. Thus, we aim to maximize the nonzero match count to efficiently narrow down our list of potential secret words.
This strategy does not guarantee finding the secret word within 10 guesses. However, it statistically increases the likelihood of doing so.
Where can you look for more info on the usefulness of randomness in algorithms? I’m not following the explanation and would love to read up some more on the topic. How do you even search for this? Is there a term?
Randomness is a powerful tool used in many areas of computer science, including algorithm design. Algorithms that make use of randomness are often referred to as “randomized algorithms”. They make decisions based on the outcome of a random number generator, and can sometimes provide better averagecase performance than their deterministic counterparts.
Here are some resources that you might find useful to understand the concept better:
For a deep dive, the book Randomized Algorithms by Rajeev Motwani and Prabhakar Raghavan is a comprehensive resource. When searching, consider using terms like “randomized algorithms”, “Monte Carlo methods”, “Las Vegas algorithms”, or “probabilistic algorithms”.
For example, if there are 26 different words in word list:
‘aaaaaa’ ‘aaaaab’ …… ‘aaaaaz’ In this case, guessing the correct word in 10 attempts is impossible. Since each wrong attempt can only eliminate 1 answer, nothing else.
You’re correct. In your provided example, we could eliminate only one wrong word at a time because all the words are different at only one character position and the rest of the characters are the same.
The “Guess the Word” problem is an instance of a broader class of problems called “blackbox optimization” or “function optimization”. These problems involve finding the input to a function that results in the maximum or minimum output, and we don’t have any information about the function apart from its outputs. In this case, the function is the ‘master.guess()’ method.
If we consider worstcase scenarios, like the one you’ve presented, it’s true that we might not always be able to guess the secret word within 10 tries.
The strategy here is to maximize the number of words we can potentially eliminate with each guess, so our algorithm performs as well as possible on average or in the majority of cases. However, as with many function optimization problems, it’s not always possible to find a perfect solution that works in every possible scenario.
This highlights the importance of understanding the constraints and assumptions of your problem, and why it’s crucial to clarify these points before designing your algorithm. In the real world, this might involve discussions with product managers, users, or other stakeholders.
Looks like the question requires the word list generated by certain distribution. Otherwise, 10 guesses are not sufficient. Take a simple example, let’s assume the secret is abcdef. I can keep the first 5 leading characteres the same and only mutate the last character. To find out the secret in this word list, you need at least 26 guesses in the worse case because there’s no way you can further prune the list.
Yes, you’re absolutely correct. The problem statement assumes a specific distribution of words, otherwise, as you mentioned, the 10 guesses would not be sufficient.
In your scenario, if the words only differ in the last character, it is impossible to eliminate more than one word with each guess. The assumption in this problem is that the words are distributed in such a way that allows the list to be pruned efficiently.
In reality, certain constraints or assumptions are often required for algorithmic problems. The usefulness and effectiveness of an algorithm often depend heavily on the assumptions made. In this case, the problem assumes that the words are distributed in a way that allows for significant pruning.
It’s always important to consider the constraints and assumptions when designing algorithms, and understanding how these constraints impact the functionality and limitations of your solution.
Let’s simplify the question.
Given a set of character from a  z, one character is picked as the answer, can you gaurentee selecting the correct answer in 10 guesses?
If we cannot even gaurentee the output for a one character string, how are we doing it with a 6 character string? Think about the example [azzzzz, bzzzzz, czzzzz … zzzzzz], when the query returns 5, it basically means that the first character is not correct, and the worse case is to guess 26 times.
Did I miss some important property of this question or is it flawed?
The question you’re referring to is a specific type of problem known as the guessing game problem. The context of the problem is that there’s a “master” who knows a secret word and you’re trying to guess the secret word with as few attempts as possible.
The simplification you made is correct, but it misses one key aspect of the original problem: feedback. In the original problem, the master doesn’t just say if you’re right or wrong, but also provides how many character matches you got right. So, if you guess “azzzzz” and the master says “5”, you don’t only learn that the first letter isn’t correct, you also know that the other five letters (‘z’) are correct. This additional feedback is crucial to solving the problem within the specified number of guesses.
For the original problem, you’re right that for certain arrangements of words (like your example [azzzzz, bzzzzz, czzzzz … zzzzzz]), the solution is not guaranteed within 10 guesses. The problem assumes a certain distribution of words that allows for the list to be narrowed down efficiently.
In reality, it’s always important to consider the constraints and assumptions when tackling algorithmic problems, as these impact the functionality and limitations of your solution. Here, the assumption is that the words are distributed in a way that allows for significant pruning based on the feedback from the master.
Similar Problems
Given the problem Guess the Word, identify and list down 10 similar problems on LeetCode. These should cover similar concepts or require similar problemsolving approaches as the provided problem. Please also give a brief reason as to why you think each problem is similar to the given problem.