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Pandigital Products – Project Euler Problem No. 32

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Hi there!

So today, I thought I’d post a solution for Project Euler’s Pandigital Products Problem (No. 32).

In case you don’t know what Project Euler ist, its basically a website with mathematical challenges that can/should be solved by writing code in order to compute the solution. Doing these challenges is a fun way of combining mathematical thinking and coding. I recommend checking out project Euler here.

Many if not most people who work on these problems try to find the computationally most efficient solution. However I believe that there also lies some virtue in trying to find a feasible solution as quickly as possible. Thats what I am going to attempt to do here.

The Problem

Lets take a look at the original problem definition from the Project Euler website:

To paraphrase: We are asked to find all numbers a, b and c such that a*b = c and that the concatenation of a, b and c contains each digit (1 to 9) exactly once. The solution is then the sum of all unique values of c that we can find.

A (simple) Solution using Python:

From the problem it is clear that the concatenation of a, b and c must be 9 characters long. How about if we compute all permutations of the sequence of all digits “123456789”?

Output:

And now just check if there is a way to split each permutation into three parts such that it represents a concatenation of a, b and c with the desired property that a*b = c.

Output:

Thats nice, we got all possible combinations of a,b and c such that a*b=c and that the concatenation of a, b and c is pandigital. Notice how some values of c occur multiple times in the output, i.e. 12*483 = 5796 and also 138*42 = 5796.

The next step is to sum up all different values of c, in order to find the solution to the original problem. I am using a python set to collect all products, because sets filter out duplicate entries automatically. After going through the iterations the values in the set just need to be summed up to give us the correct answer.

Output:

Performance improvements:

The above approach is totally brute force but the idea is simple and it was fast to code. With a little bit of tweaking it can be made just a bit more efficient.

Looking at the equation a * b = c it becomes clear that:

  1. A factor (a or b) cannot have more digits than the product (c) has.
    Thus we can limit the range of i for the possible positions of the first cut:
  2. For the same reason we can also limit the range of j for the position of the second cut:

Last, we can exploit the ordering of the generated permutations that we saw in the first output. The permutation of “123456789” builds up gradually starting at the end of the string. And when we loop over all permutations and encounter the first permutation starting with the digit “5” we know that the product (c) went trough all possible values and we won’t find any new ones. This allows us to skip half of the generated permutations.

Final Solution:

Final Output:

Find more of my Project Euler Solutions on GitHub.

Material taken from projecteuler.net is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales. More info here.

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