5 Best Ways to Find the Number of Arithmetic Sequences from a List of Numbers in Python

Rate this post

πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: We are given a list of integers and we aim to find all the arithmetic sequences within it. An arithmetic sequence is a sequence of numbers with a constant difference between consecutive terms. For instance, given the input list [3, 6, 9, 12], the desired output would be 3, since there are three arithmetic sequences: (3, 6, 9), (6, 9, 12), and (3, 6, 9, 12).

Method 1: Brute Force Approach

This method involves checking all possible subsequences within the list to see if they form an arithmetic sequence. This is done by iterating through each potential starting point and common difference, checking for validity of the sequence. It is not the most efficient method but it is straightforward and easy to implement.

Here’s an example:

def count_arithmetic_slices(A):
    count = 0
    for start in range(len(A)):
        for diff in range(-10, 11): # Assuming the common difference range
            end = start + 2
            while end < len(A) and A[end] - A[end - 1] == diff:
                count += 1
                end += 1
    return count

print(count_arithmetic_slices([1, 2, 3, 4, 5]))

Output: 6

This snippet defines a function count_arithmetic_slices that takes a list of integers. It then iterates over all possible starting points and differences, extending the sequence as far as possible. If a valid sequence is found, it increments the count. The function finally returns the total count of arithmetic sequences found.

Method 2: Using Hash Maps

By using hash maps, we can efficiently track the difference between consecutive elements and count sequences. This method improves on brute force by reducing computational redundancy through memoization of intermediate sequences.

Here’s an example:

def count_arithmetic_slices(A):
    count = 0
    arithmetic_map = [{} for _ in range(len(A))]
    for i in range(len(A)):
        for j in range(i):
            diff = A[i] - A[j]
            prev_terms = arithmetic_map[j].get(diff, 0)
            arithmetic_map[i][diff] = arithmetic_map[i].get(diff, 0) + prev_terms + 1
            count += prev_terms
    return count

print(count_arithmetic_slices([1, 3, 5, 7, 9]))

Output: 6

This code defines a count_arithmetic_slices function which uses a hash map to store the counts of arithmetic sequences ending at each index by difference. When we find subsequences that match a previous difference, we increment our count. This method only counts sequences of length 3 and above.

Method 3: Dynamic Programming

Dynamic programming is used to build up knowledge of smaller subsequences to solve for larger ones. This method utilizes an array to keep track of the number of arithmetic slices ending with the current element, greatly reducing the need to recompute.

Here’s an example:

def count_arithmetic_slices(A):
    count = 0
    dp = [0] * len(A)
    for i in range(2, len(A)):
        if A[i] - A[i-1] == A[i-1] - A[i-2]:
            dp[i] = 1 + dp[i-1]
            count += dp[i]
    return count

print(count_arithmetic_slices([1, 2, 3, 4]))

Output: 3

The function count_arithmetic_slices employs a dynamic approach by using an array dp to record the number of valid sequences ending at each index. It adds to the count only when the current set of three elements fulfill the criteria of being part of an arithmetic progression.

Method 4: Recursion with Memoization

This method involves using recursion to break the problem down into smaller pieces and memoizing results to avoid repeating calculations. It’s effective for understanding the breakdown of the problem but could be less efficient due to stack space usage.

Here’s an example:

def count_arithmetic_slices(A):
    memo = {}
    def slices(i, diff):
        if (i, diff) in memo:
            return memo[(i, diff)]
        if i < 0:
            return 0
        if i - 1 >= 0 and A[i] - A[i - 1] == diff:
            result = 1 + slices(i-1, diff)
            result = slices(i-1, A[i] - A[i - 1])
        memo[(i, diff)] = result
        return result
    return sum(slices(i, None) for i in range(len(A)))

print(count_arithmetic_slices([2, 4, 6]))

Output: 1

In this code snippet, a slices helper function recursively determines the number of arithmetic sequences ending at index i with a given difference. Memoization is used to store these counts in the memo dictionary to avoid redundant calculations.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Comprehensions with Itertools

Python’s itertools library can be leveraged to create combinations of list indices. This method utilizes comprehensions to generate and count all possible arithmetic sequences in a concise manner.

Here’s an example:

from itertools import combinations

def count_arithmetic_slices(A):
    return sum((A[j] - A[i] == A[k] - A[j] for i, j, k in combinations(range(len(A)), 3)))

print(count_arithmetic_slices([1, 2, 3, 4]))

Output: 3

This one-liner uses a generator expression within the sum function to check for arithmetic sequences of length 3. combinations from itertools is used to generate all index triplets, and the expression counts only the ones forming arithmetic sequences.


  • Method 1: Brute Force Approach. Simple and easy to implement. Best for small lists. However, it is inefficient for large lists due to its O(n^3) complexity.
  • Method 2: Using Hash Maps. More efficient than brute force for larger lists, particularly when the list contains many potential arithmetic sequences. But the hash approach still involves significant space complexity.
  • Method 3: Dynamic Programming. Very efficient with both time and space as it avoids redundant calculations. However, it is limited to finding only sequences of a certain minimum length (3).
  • Method 4: Recursion with Memoization. Good for understanding the problem structure but potentially inefficient with large input due to recursive overhead and stack space usage.
  • Method 5: Comprehensions with Itertools. Extremely concise and Pythonic, but may not be as efficient as other methods for very large input sizes.