5 Best Ways to Program a Rower Reducing Game Winner Finder in Python

Rate this post

πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: You’re tasked with writing a Python program to determine the winner of a rower reducing game. Given an array representing the strength of each rower and the rule that a rower can only challenge its immediate neighbor, the program should output the last remaining rower as the winner. For example, given the input [3, 5, 2, 1], the succession of challenges might result in 5 as the winner.

Method 1: Using a Queue

This method leverages a queue to simulate the challenges between rowers. Each rower is enqueued and then dequeued to face the next in line. If a rower wins, they are placed at the back of the queue to face the next opponent. This process continues until only one rower remains.

Here’s an example:

from collections import deque

def find_winner(rowers):
    queue = deque(rowers)
    while len(queue) > 1:
        first, second = queue.popleft(), queue.popleft()
        if first > second:
    return queue[0]

Output: The winner of the rower reducing game.

This approach uses a first-in, first-out (FIFO) data structure to easily manage the rowers’ challenges. It’s simple to implement and ensures each rower is compared only to its immediate neighbor until a winner is found.

Method 2: Recursive Elimination

Recursive elimination removes the need for additional data structures by using the call stack to simulate the rower challenges. The base case occurs when the list of rowers has only one element, which is the winner.

Here’s an example:

def find_winner(rowers):
    if len(rowers) == 1:
        return rowers[0]
    winner = rowers[0] if rowers[0] > rowers[1] else rowers[1]
    return find_winner([winner] + rowers[2:])

Output: The winner of the rower reducing game.

Recursive elimination uses the elegance of recursion to continually reduce the array of rowers until a single winner remains. This method may be less efficient for larger lists due to the overhead of recursive calls.

Method 3: Iterative Approach

The iterative approach processes each pair of rowers in a loop, advancing to the next pair after determining a winner. This method effectively reduces the array size by half in each iteration, leading to the last remaining rower who is the winner.

Here’s an example:

def find_winner(rowers):
    while len(rowers) > 1:
        rowers = [max(rowers[i], rowers[i+1]) for i in range(0, len(rowers)-1, 2)]
    return rowers[0]

Output: The winner of the rower reducing game.

The iterative approach modifies the rowers array in-place and is typically more memory-efficient than recursion. This method is well-suited for a small to medium number of rowers.

Method 4: Using the Reduce Function

The reduce() function from the functools module can be applied to find the winner. This function reduces the rowers array to a single element by applying a binary function cumulatively to the items of the iterable.

Here’s an example:

from functools import reduce

def find_winner(rowers):
    return reduce(lambda x, y: x if x > y else y, rowers)

Output: The winner of the rower reducing game.

Utilizing the reduce() function provides a concise and functional approach to solving the problem. It can handle large datasets efficiently and reveals the intent of the reduction process explicitly.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: List Comprehension with Max

A one-liner using list comprehension and the max() function lets you determine the winner concisely and without explicitly writing loops or recursive functions.

Here’s an example:

find_winner = lambda rowers: max(rowers) if len(set(rowers)) == 1 else max(rowers)

Output: The winner of the rower reducing game.

This one-liner is not only succinct but relies on Python’s built-in max() function which is optimized and executes quickly. It’s best suited for situations where readability is not as critical as conciseness.


  • Method 1: Queue. Robust and easy to understand. Inefficient for a large number of rowers due to queue operations.
  • Method 2: Recursive Elimination. Elegant, with a simple base case. Not optimal for large datasets due to potential stack overflow.
  • Method 3: Iterative Approach. In-place and memory-efficient for small/medium datasets. May become slower as the number of rowers grows.
  • Method 4: Reduce Function. Concise and functional. Efficient for large datasets but can be less readable for those unfamiliar with reduction.
  • Bonus Method 5: One-Liner List Comprehension. Extremely concise and fast with small datasets. Reduced readability and does not actually simulate the game process.