Java Solution via Prime Factorization and the Math Proof

  • 1

    Inspired by the greedy algorithm posted by Here I show a proof for it.

    [Theorem] Let f(n) be the result of this problem. If n>=2 and n=product{pi^ei, for 1<=i<=t} is the prime factorization of n, where pi's are distinct primes and ei's are positive integers, for 1<=i<=t, then f(n)=sum{pi*ei, for 1<=i<=t}.

    [Proof of Theorem] We prove by induction on n. It is clear for n=2. Assuming that the theorem is true for all positive integer >=2 and <n, we show the case for n.

    If n is a prime, then to obtain n A's, there is ONLY one way, i.e., by CopyAlling 1 'A', and Pasting for (n-1) times (there is no other way to duplicate a string 'AA...A' to obtain n A's). Therefore, f(n)=1+n-1=n, which is the only prime factor of n.

    Otherwise, let n=product{pi^ei, for 1<=i<=t} be the prime factorization of n. Let ni=n/pi, for 1<=i<=t. To obtain n A's, there are exactly t+1 ways:

    The 1st way is to CopyAll 1 'A', and Paste for (n-1) times, which costs n steps;

    The other t ways are: For 1<=i<=t, to form ni A's by f(ni) steps (noticing that it is the # of min steps to obtain ni A's), then CopyAll ni 'A's, and Paste for n/ni-1=pi-1 times, totally costing f(ni)+1+pi-1=f(ni)+pi steps.

    Since 2<=ni<n, and ni=n/pi = pi^(ei-1) * product{pj^ej, for 1<=j<=t, j!=i}, by the induction hypothesis,

    f(ni) = pi*(ei-1) + sum{pj*ej, for 1<=j<=t, j!=i}.

    Hence, each of the t ways costs f(ni)+pi = sum{pi*ei, for 1<=i<=t}.

    Therefore, f(n) must be min(n, sum{piei, for 1<=i<=t}), clearly n=product{pi^ei, for 1<=i<=t} > sum{piei, for 1<=i<=t}, when n is not a prime. The case for n is proved.

    By the induction principle, the theorem holds. [End]

    		public int minSteps(int n) {
    			int res = 0;
    			for (int d = 2; d <= n; d++) {
    				while (n % d == 0) {
    					res += d;
    					n /= d;
    			return res > 0 || n == 1 ? res : n;

  • 0

    I should've said n=product{pi^ei, for 1<=i<=t} >= sum{piei, for 1<=i<=t}, when n is not a prime (for the case n=4=2*2, which is the only case the equality holds).

  • 0

    Great solution, thanks for sharing

  • 0

    @rikimberley What is the time complexity of this algorithm? Cool analysis though!

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