java O(n^3) solution w/ easy to understand proof


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    B

    Here is a solution inspired by awice's python solution with a proof that is hopefully easy to understand.

    int dp(int i, int j){
        if(i > j) return 0;
        if(i == j) return 1;
        if(mem[i][j] == -1){ //result is not memoized yet
            if(a[i] == a[j]){
                mem[i][j] = dp(i, j-1);
            } else {
                int ans = j-i+1;
                for(int k=i; k<=j; k++)
                    if(a[k] == a[i])
                        ans = Math.min(ans, dp(i,k) + dp(k+1, j));
                mem[i][j] = ans;
            }
        }
        return mem[i][j];
    }
    

    algorithm idea:
    • do recursion and memoization.
    • dp[i][j] = min #prints to solve for range i to j inclusive.
    • base cases
    i > j -> 0
    i == j -> 1
    • recursive cases
    a[i] == a[j] -> dp[i][j-1]
    a[i] != a[j] -> min(dp[i][k] + dp[k+1][j]) for all k where i<=k<=j && a[i] == a[k]
     
     
    • proof of     a[i] == a[j] -> dp[i][j-1]:
    An optimal schedule exists where we first print a[i] onto the entire range [i,j].
    This is because it is always fine to print a[i] onto cell i first, but we might as well extend this print onto all other cells, since it might be more useful for those cells to start out with a[i] instead of a blank value.
    Therefore, it is fine to assume that we always first print a[i] onto the entire range [i,j].

    Because we can make this assumption, solve range [i,j] costs same as problem range[i,j-1], since satisfying cell j takes no additional prints.
     
     
    • proof of     a[i] != a[j] -> min(dp[i][k] + dp[k+1][j]) for all k where i<=k<=j && a[i] == a[k]:
    Lets pivot on the rightmost character of the first print that did not get overwritten.
    Denote the index of this character as k.

    Obviously, if cell k did not get overwritten, then a[k] == a[i]

    For given k, the structure of the schedule is to first print on the entire range [i,j], and then finish satisfying all constraints without printing on or across cell k.
    Note that the first print can also be on the range [i,k], since any character printed right of cell k will be overwritten (by definition).
    Therefore, the structure of this schedule is the same as solving range[i,k] and range[k+1,j] separately.
     
     
    Trying all candidate indexes k, and finding the minimum #prints given certain k, will lead us to the optimal answer.


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