5 Best Ways to Check if Serving a Customer Queue with Different Notes is Possible in Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: In a retail scenario, a cashier needs to determine if they can serve a queue of customers where each customer requires change from different denominations of cash. The input could be a queue represented by a list where each customer is a cash note they provide, and the desired output is a boolean indicating if everyone can be served given the cashier’s available change. For example, input [20, 5, 5, 10] with a cashier starting with no change should return False.

Method 1: Brute Force Approach

This method entails trying all possible combinations of notes to give change to each customer. The function would systematically check every permutation of notes until it finds a solution that allows all customers to be served, or until all options have been exhausted, indicating that it’s not possible to serve the queue.

Here’s an example:

def can_serve_all_brute_force(queue):
    # Suppose the cashier only has notes of 5, 10, and 20
    change = {5:0, 10:0, 20:0}
    for payment in queue:
        if payment == 5:
            change[5] += 1
        else:
            change_needed = payment - 5
            for note in (20, 10, 5):
                while change[note] > 0 and change_needed >= note:
                    change[note] -= 1
                    change_needed -= note
            if change_needed != 0:
                return False
    return True

queue = [20, 5, 5, 10]
print(can_serve_all_brute_force(queue))

Output: False

This snippet iterates through the queue, handles the purchase, and attempts to give change with the available notes. If there is insufficient change for any customer, it returns False. This approach is straightforward but inefficient for large queues or when there are many denominations of notes.

Method 2: Greedy Algorithm

The greedy approach serves customers by always giving the largest possible note for change, which in many cases is efficient and yields the correct result. By maintaining a record of the available notes, it can quickly determine whether change can be given for the next note.

Here’s an example:

def can_serve_all_greedy(queue):
    # Available notes
    change_in_drawer = {5:0, 10:0, 20:0}
    # Iterate through each customer in the queue
    for note in queue:
        if note == 5:
            change_in_drawer[5] += 1
        elif note == 10:
            if change_in_drawer[5] == 0:
                return False
            change_in_drawer[5] -= 1
        else: # note == 20
            if change_in_drawer[10] > 0 and change_in_drawer[5] > 0:
                change_in_drawer[10] -= 1
                change_in_drawer[5] -= 1
            elif change_in_drawer[5] >= 3:
                change_in_drawer[5] -= 3
            else:
                return False
    return True

queue = [20, 5, 5, 10]
print(can_serve_all_greedy(queue))

Output: False

This snippet checks if the cashier can serve each customer by attempting to provide change using the largest notes possible. The greedy algorithm is more efficient than brute force but may not work in scenarios where giving smaller change earlier could lead to a positive result down the line.

Method 3: Recursive Backtracking

Recursive backtracking attempts to solve the problem by exploring each possibility at each step and backtracking if the current path doesn’t lead to a solution. It’s a systematic way of trying out different sequences of giving out change until the entire queue is served or all possibilities are exhausted.

Here’s an example:

def can_serve_customer(queue, index, change):
    if index == len(queue):
        return True
    note = queue[index]
    if note == 5:
        change[5] += 1
        return can_serve_customer(queue, index + 1, change)
    elif note == 10:
        if change[5] > 0:
            change[5] -= 1
            return can_serve_customer(queue, index + 1, change)
        return False
    elif note == 20:
        if change[10] > 0 and change[5] > 0:
            change[10] -= 1
            change[5] -= 1
            if can_serve_customer(queue, index + 1, change):
                return True
            change[10] += 1
            change[5] += 1
        if change[5] >= 3:
            change[5] -= 3
            if can_serve_customer(queue, index + 1, change):
                return True
            change[5] += 3
        return False

queue = [20, 5, 5, 10]
change = {5:0, 10:0, 20:0}
print(can_serve_customer(queue, 0, change))

Output: False

In this approach, we recursively try each branch of giving out change, rolling back and attempting different options if we hit a dead end. While exhaustive and potentially more thorough than the greedy method, this can be less efficient due to overlapping subproblems and recomputation.

Method 4: Dynamic Programming

Dynamic programming can be applied to this problem by breaking it down into smaller subproblems, solving each one, and storing their solutions to avoid redundant calculations. This method can significantly reduce the time complexity of certain problems.

Here’s an example:

# This is not applicable as dynamic programming does not suit this specific problem due to its greedy nature.

This is a placeholder as dynamic programming does not apply to this specific problem since each decision to give change depends on the specific notes available, not on subproblems that can be reused effectively.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using Python’s Built-in Functionality

Employ Python’s standard libraries and language constructs for a concise one-liner solution. Although this problem isn’t easily resolved with a one-liner due to its inherent complex logic, we can often find creative ways to utilize Python’s features to condense code.

Here’s an example:

# While a one-liner is not feasible due to the problem's complexity, Python does not have a built-in function that can be cleverly used in this scenario.

This illustrates that not all problems lend themselves to one-liner solutions, especially when the logic required to solve the problem is too complex for a single line of Python to handle effectively.

Summary/Discussion

  • Method 1: Brute Force Approach. Straightforward. Best for small inputs. Inefficient for larger queues.
  • Method 2: Greedy Algorithm. Much faster than brute force. Not always accurate for complex scenarios with various note denominations.
  • Method 3: Recursive Backtracking. Thorough. Can be slow and use a lot of stack space. Handles more complex scenarios better than the greedy method.
  • Method 4: Dynamic Programming. Not applicable. This placeholder highlights the limitation of dynamic programming for this particular problem.
  • Bonus Method 5: One-Liner. Not feasible. Emphasizes that complex problems sometimes cannot be condensed into a single line of Python code.