5 Best Ways to Calculate the Position of a Ball After N Reversals in Python

Rate this post

πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: This article focuses on the algorithmic challenge of determining the position of a ball after it has undergone a series of directional reversals. Given an integer n representing the number of reversals, the goal is to find the final position of the ball. For example, if the ball starts at position 1 and moves right at each step, after 5 reversals, its position would be 6.

Method 1: Iterative Solution

The iterative method utilizes a simple for loop to calculate the position of the ball after n reversals. This method is straightforward and intuitive, where the position is incremented by 1 at each reversal.

Here’s an example:

def find_ball_position(reversals):
    position = 1
    for i in range(reversals):
        position += 1
    return position

print(find_ball_position(5))

Output:

6

This code snippet defines a function called find_ball_position() which takes the number of reversals as the argument. It initializes the ball’s position to 1 and then increments it by 1 with every reversal using a for loop. Finally, it returns the computed position.

Method 2: Arithmetic Progression

The position of the ball after n reversals can be determined using the concept of arithmetic progression. The position is the sum of an arithmetic series with a common difference of 1.

Here’s an example:

def find_ball_position(reversals):
    return 1 + reversals

print(find_ball_position(5))

Output:

6

The function find_ball_position() takes advantage of the nature of the problem, as the position after each reversal increases linearly. Thus, by simply adding the number of reversals to the starting position, we get the final position.

Method 3: Using a While Loop

Instead of a for loop, we can use a while loop to simulate the movement of the ball, incrementing its position until the number of reversals is reached.

Here’s an example:

def find_ball_position(reversals):
    position = 1
    count = 0
    while count < reversals:
        position += 1
        count += 1
    return position

print(find_ball_position(5))

Output:

6

This function, find_ball_position(), initiates a count variable alongside the position. It uses a while loop to continue the incrementation process until the count matches the number of reversals, which will then yield the final position.

Method 4: Recursive Approach

A recursive function can be written to determine the ball’s position by decrementing the reversals count until it reaches zero, at which point the base case returns the current position.

Here’s an example:

def find_ball_position(reversals, position=1):
    if reversals == 0:
        return position
    else:
        return find_ball_position(reversals - 1, position + 1)

print(find_ball_position(5))

Output:

6

The code snippet demonstrates a recursive function named find_ball_position(). It keeps calling itself with a decreased reversals count and an incremented position until the base case is reached, where the reversals are zero, and then it returns the position.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Direct Calculation

The position of the ball can be directly calculated with a simple mathematical expression, as each reversal moves the ball exactly one unit to the right from its starting position.

Here’s an example:

find_ball_position = lambda reversals: 1 + reversals
print(find_ball_position(5))

Output:

6

The lambda function find_ball_position simply adds the number of reversals to the starting position of 1 to find the final position of the ball in a concise one-liner.

Summary/Discussion

  • Method 1: Iterative Solution. Strengths: Easy to understand and explain. Weaknesses: Could be overkill for such a simple problem.
  • Method 2: Arithmetic Progression. Strengths: Simple and efficient with no loops. Weaknesses: Limited to this specific case with a common difference of 1.
  • Method 3: Using a While Loop. Strengths: Clear logic similar to the iterative approach. Weaknesses: More verbose than necessary for the problem.
  • Method 4: Recursive Approach. Strengths: Elegant and extendable to more complex scenarios. Weaknesses: Overhead of recursive calls and risk of stack overflow for large n.
  • Bonus Method 5: Direct Calculation. Strengths: Extremely succinct and clear. Weaknesses: May not illustrate the thought process behind the solution.