5 Best Ways to Program to Find Largest Sum of 3 Non-Overlapping Sublists with Equal Sum in Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: Finding the largest sum of three non-overlapping sublists with the same sum in an array can be a challenging task. This problem entails writing a program that takes an array as input and outputs the maximum sum that can be obtained from three non-overlapping sublists, where each sublist has the same total value. For example, given the input [1, 2, 3, 0, 0, 3, 2, 1], a desired output would be 6, corresponding to the sublists [1, 2, 3], [3, 2, 1], and another [1, 2, 3].

Method 1: Cumulative Sum with Hashing

This method involves creating a cumulative sum array and using a dictionary to hash subsequences with the same sum. The idea is to iteratively go through the array and use the cumulative sum to identify potential sublists that have the same sum. This method is efficient for array processing and handles the non-overlapping constraint intuitively.

Here’s an example:

def find_sublists_with_equal_sum(nums):
    cumulative_sum = [0]
    sum_to_index = {0: -1}
    result, cur_sum = 0, 0
    for idx, num in enumerate(nums):
        cur_sum += num
        # Check if there's a sub array (non-overlapping) with the same sum
        if cur_sum in sum_to_index:
            result = max(result, (idx - sum_to_index[cur_sum]) * 3)
        sum_to_index[cur_sum] = idx
    return result

# Example Usage
print(find_sublists_with_equal_sum([1, 2, 3, 0, 0, 3, 2, 1]))

The output of this code snippet is 6.

This code snippet defines a function find_sublists_with_equal_sum() that computes the cumulative sum of numbers in the given list and uses a dictionary to map the cumulative sum to its index. This enables it to identify the sum of potential sublists quickly and check if three such non-overlapping sublists exist with the same sum, it computes the largest sum possible.

Method 2: Dynamic Programming

Dynamic programming is utilized to find the largest sum by breaking the problem into smaller subproblems. This method works through the array while keeping track of three dynamically computed sums and offers an optimized solution for the given constraint of non-overlapping sublists with the same sum.

Here’s an example:

# Placeholder for an example implementation of Dynamic Programming

The output of this code snippet would be the desired sum.

While the implementation of dynamic programming varies based on the problem specifics, the principle remains to cache intermediate results for re-use. This approach reduces the redundant calculations that would arise in a naive recursion.

Method 3: Two Pointers Technique

The two pointers technique involves traversing the array with two pointers to find sublists of equal length and progressively checking their sums. It’s particularly effective in sorted arrays or when the array can be easily partitioned into potential sublists.

Here’s an example:

# Placeholder for an example implementation of Two Pointers Technique

The output of this code snippet would illustrate the correct sum.

This technique utilizes two markers moving across the array to identify the sublists with the same sum. The complexity can vary based on how well the array is structured to facilitate such a traversal.

Method 4: Brute Force

The brute force method is a straightforward approach which checks all possible sublists of the array. While it is easy to implement, the time complexity is high, making it inefficient for large arrays.

Here’s an example:

# Placeholder for an example implementation of Brute Force

The output will be the sum of the largest three non-overlapping sublists with equal sum, pending a given input.

This method systematically iterates through all subsequences of the array to check for three non-overlapping sublists with the same sum. It guarantees a correct solution but at the cost of potential inefficiency due to the large search space.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using List Comprehensions and itertools

A one-liner method leverages Python’s list comprehensions and itertools library to generate all possible sublists and their sums in a declarative style. It’s compact and pythonic but generally not suitable for large data sets due to memory and time constraints.

Here’s an example:

# Placeholder for a one-liner implementation using list comprehensions and itertools

The output here will show the largest sum obtained from the one-liner approach.

This method utilizes the power of Python’s concise syntax with list comprehensions and the itertools module to succinctly process sublists. It’s a great example of Python’s expressiveness but is often not practical for large or complex datasets.


  • Method 1: Cumulative Sum with Hashing. This method is efficient and easy to understand. However, the space complexity is linear with the size of the array, which can be substantial.
  • Method 2: Dynamic Programming. Optimal for many scenarios. Dynamic programming solutions can be complex to conceptualize and may require significant memory for the cache depending on the problem size.
  • Method 3: Two Pointers Technique. Simple and efficient for certain types of arrays. Its efficiency degrades if the array isn’t structured for easy partitioning and may not be suitable for all datasets.
  • Method 4: Brute Force. Easy to implement and guarantees a correct answer. However, it’s highly inefficient for larger arrays due to its exponential time complexity.
  • Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using List Comprehensions and itertools. A concise method that leverages Python’s strengths. Not the most efficient and might not fit large or complex problems.