Sunday, November 27, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 64: Binary Tree Layout (1)

"Given a binary tree as defined before being either a vector of the form [v l r] or nil. As a preparation for drawing the tree, a layout algorithm is required to determine the position of each node in a rectangular grid. In this layout strategy, the position of a node v is obtained by the following two rules:

  • x(v) is equal to the position of the node v in the inorder
  • y(v) is equal to the depth of the node v in the tree sequence"


The Problem

I thought it would be interesting to use this problem as an excuse to take a closer look at the zipper implementation that comes with Clojure in the namespace.

One solution to problem 64 is an in-order traversal of the tree while transforming or editing the individual nodes to enrich them with positional information. As said in the problem statement, the x-coordinate is equal to the position of the current node in the in-order traversal. We therefore need to carry some context forward during our traversal. The calculation of the y-coordinate needs contextual information about the current depth as well.

Introduction to Zippers

Zippers solve the problem that such transformations or edits in trees are quite expensive in immutable persistent data structures. This can become an issue when working with deeper trees and many edits. Every edit would trigger the creation of a new path to the root node in order to be non-destructive. In an immutable persistent (tree) data structure the old versions of the tree 'persist' and can be accessed as before the edit.

Zippers as described by Huet make these edits local to the node we are focussing on at one given moment (the focal node). Zippers achieve this by keeping contextual information around that describes the path back up to the root node (and the local neighbours). The edits stay local to the focal node and are only reconstructed into a new tree structure bit by bit as you 'zip' up the tree when moving upwards.

While this concept is really simple at its core, it took me a while to wrap my head around the mechanics of working with Clojure's zippers when you want to use them for a non-trivial edit that needs additional context, as it is the case for problem 64.

There are a couple of good blog posts describing Clojure's zipper implementation but Alex Miller's DeveloperWorks post from 2011 made the penny drop for me. It is targeting Java developers but you can skip the Java bits (but not the initial problem statement) and jump right into the section about zippers at the end. I found it also helpful to read the source of

A thorough introduction to zippers is out of the scope of this post, but I want to draw your attention to the traversal of a tree using zippers that was not immediately obvious to me.

Consider one of the binary trees we have build in one of the previous posts:

 / \
l   r 

Using a zipper we can traverse this tree, moving—in this example—down and right, even though our tree graph does not have an edge between the two branch nodes:

> v                        v                         v
 / \    / \    / \
l   r                   >l   r                     l  >r
From a zippers point of view our tree has additional traversal 'edges' between the neighbour nodes.
     [l] - v - [r]  //either l and r exists in a binary tree
          / \
         l - r 

Tree Zipper

Clojure comes with built-in zippers for seqs, the results of xml/parse and vectors. I decided to built my own zipper, because, while our trees are based on vectors, the built-in vector zipper does not know anything about our domain specific interpretation of those vectors.

(defn tree-zip
    (complement nil?) 
    (fn [n c] (with-meta (apply vector (first n) c) (meta n))) t))

You define a zipper in with three functions. First, a branch detector which in our case treats everything that is not nil as a potential branch. Second a function to extract the children of a node, in our case just the tail of a branch node. Finally a node creator function, that takes a node and children and creates a new node, in our case by replacing the children of the existing node n with the new children.

We preserve the metadata when creating a new node because these three zipper functions are passed through the zipper by storing them as metadata on the nodes.

In-Order Zipper comes with the 'next' function that iterates the tree depth-first. We need in-order traversal. I implemented a variant of 'next' that does that. Due to the applicative nature of zippers you can use arbitrary look-ahead and walk around the tree to make the next navigation decision, backtracking once it becomes obvious that the current path is not the next valid in-order traversal step.

Putting it all together

The tree-edit function itself is a variation on one of Alex Miller's visitors from the DeveloperWorks post I mentioned earlier. We traverse the tree using an iterator function (here: in-order) and call an edit function on every node.

(defn tree-edit [zipper f next]
  (loop [loc zipper state {}]  
    (let [node (z/node loc)
          path (z/path loc)
          depth (inc (count path))
          [new-node new-state :as res] (f node (assoc state :depth depth))
          new-loc (if (= new-node node)
                    (z/replace loc new-node))
          next-loc (next new-loc)]
      (if (end-in-order? next-loc)
        (z/root new-loc)
        (recur next-loc new-state)))))

The edit function takes the current tree node and a context object that we pass around as we traverse the tree. To solve problem 64 we need to know the depth of the current location in the tree. I solved that by injecting the current depth into the context map from the tree traversing 'tree-edit' function. The depth itself can be calculated from the zippers location information.

My full solution is, as always, on Github.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 63: Construct a Complete Binary Tree

"A complete binary tree with height H is defined as follows: The levels 1,2,3,...,H-1 contain the maximum number of nodes (i.e 2(i-1) at the level i, note that we start counting the levels from 1 at the root). In level H, which may contain less than the maximum possible number of nodes, all the nodes are 'left-adjusted'. This means that in a levelorder tree traversal all internal nodes come first, the leaves come second, and empty successors (the Ends which are not really nodes!) come last.

Particularly, complete binary trees are used as data structures (or addressing schemes) for heaps.

We can assign an address number to each node in a complete binary tree by enumerating the nodes in levelorder, starting at the root with number 1. In doing so, we realize that for every node X with address A the following property holds: The address of X's left and right successors are 2*A and 2*A+1, respectively, supposed the successors do exist. This fact can be used to elegantly construct a complete binary tree structure. Write a method completeBinaryTree that takes as parameters the number of nodes and the value to put in each node."


ninety-nine-clojure.bintrees> (complete-binary-tree 6 'x)                                 |
[x [x [x nil nil] [x nil nil]] [x [x nil nil] nil]]

A simple not-stack-safe approach uses recursion. One key insight here is to see that the address of the node is also at the same time the discriminator to terminate the recursion in the base case. If the address of the node we are going to construct would exceed the desired size of the tree we have to stop. This property holds also for the multiple recursion we are doing when constructing the branches of the binary tree.


You can verify the completeness of your tree by writing a predicate. My solution is a translation of the Haskell solutions of the 99 problems

This predicate verifies that the first empty slot in a node comes after the last populated node which is another way of expressing the completeness property.

(defn complete-tree? [t]
  (let [minmax (fn minmax [[v l r] idx]
                   (nil? v) [0 idx]
                   :else (let [[max-l min-l] (minmax l (* 2 idx))
                               [max-r min-r] (minmax r (inc (* 2 idx)))]
                           [(max idx max-l max-r) (min min-l min-r)])))]
    (apply < (minmax t 1))))

A Note on Design Decisions

While working on this predicate a design decision made early on in this section on trees bit me. By using Clojure's nil to express the emptiness of a node I overloaded (or 'complected' to parrot Rich Hickey's choice of words) the meaning of nil (nothing) to also express the absence of a child node in the tree and the empty tree. My traversal functions ignore nil, collapse it or elude it when concatenating branches of the tree for traversal. This is usually not a problem when you are only interested in the values of your tree. But here we want to know when in the levelorder traversal the first nil appears.

I thought a bit about this and came to the conclusion that the effects of that choice could have been mitigated by choosing a more expressive representation of the tree. My vector based approach is very minimal and works nicely in many cases because it relies on the seq abstraction. Vector destructuring works even with nil because nil seems to support nth. By creating a record or a map we can still destructure and be succinct in the handling of the tree but solve problems like determining the first occurrence of nil without resorting to a reimplementation of traversal.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 62B: Collect the Nodes at a Given Level in a List.

"A node of a binary tree is at level N if the path from the root to the node has length N-1. The root node is at level 1. Write a method at-level to collect all nodes at a given level in a list."
(deftest p62b-at-level
  (is (= '(b c) (at-level '[a [b nil nil] [c [d nil nil] [e nil nil]]] 2))))

The basic idea for the solution was to see the tree as a list of nodes and to realise that the nodes at a given level start at node 2^(level - 1) and that this is also the size of each level. Solution on Github.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 61A: Collect the Leaves of a Binary Tree in a List

"61A (*) Collect the leaves of a binary tree in a list. A leaf is a node with no successors. Write a method leaves to collect them in a list."

(deftest p61a-leaves
  (is (= '(b d e) (leaves '[a [b nil nil] [c [d nil nil] [e nil nil]]]))))

A variation on the previous exercise. Solution.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 62: Collect the Internal Nodes of Binary Tree in a List

"An internal node of a binary tree has either one or two non-empty successors. Write a method internals to collect them in a list."
(deftest p62-internals
  (is (= '(a c) (internals '[a [b nil nil] [c [d nil nil] [e nil nil]]]))))

I used the same idea as in the two previous exercises: walk the tree and filter, just filtering for branch nodes this time. Again using a predicate I wrote earlier. Solution on Github.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 61: Count the Leaves of a Binary Tree.

"A leaf is a node with no successors. Write a method leaf-count to count them."

(deftest p61-count-leaves
  (is  (= (leaf-count '[x [x [x nil nil] nil] [x nil nil]]) 2)))

I simply walked the tree and counted all the leaves. Both functions, for detecting leaves and walking the tree, existed from previous exercises. See the solution on Github.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

99 Clojure Problems – 60 (alternative solution): Construct Height-balanced Binary Trees with a Given Number of Nodes.

This post describes an alternative solution to problem 60 based on logic programming. Check out my previous post for a functional Clojure solution.

The original 99 problems were compiled to teach Prolog. Clojure's core.logic implements a minimal logic DSL called miniKanren using Clojure as the host language. In this post I reimplement the solution to problem 60 based on core.logic. If you want to learn more about miniKanren 'The Reasoned Schemer' and are probably good places to start.

My solution is not fully relational, I rely on the groundness of certain terms. See the comments below. Full source can be found on Github.

"Construct height-balanced binary trees with a given number of nodes. Consider a height-balanced binary tree of height H. What is the maximum number of nodes it can contain? Clearly, MaxN = 2H - 1.

However, what is the minimum number MinN? This question is more difficult. Try to find a recursive statement and turn it into a function min-hbal-nodes that takes a height and returns MinN."

(defne min-nodes [h n]
  ([0 0])
  ([1 1])
  ([h n]
   (fd/> h 1)
   (fresh [h1 h2 n1 n2]
     (is h1 h dec)
     (is h2 h1 dec)
     (min-nodes h1 n1)
     (min-nodes h2 n2)
     (fd/in n1 n2 n (fd/interval 0 Integer/MAX_VALUE))
     (fd/eq (= (+ 1 n1 n2) n)))))

(defn min-hbal-nodes  
  (run 1 [q]
    (min-nodes h q)))

"On the other hand, we might ask: what is the maximum height H a height-balanced binary tree with N nodes can have?"

(defne max-height [n h h1 n1]
  ([n h h1 n1]
   (fd/> n1 n)
   (is h h1 dec)) ;;non-relational
  ([n h h1 n1]
   (fd/<= n1 n)
   (fresh [h2 n2]
     (is h2 h1 inc)
     (min-nodes h2 n2)
     (max-height n h h2 n2))))

"Now, we can attack the main problem: construct all the height-balanced binary trees with a given nuber of nodes."

(defne num-nodes [t n]
  ([nil 0])
  ([[_ l r] n]
   (fresh [nl nr]
     (num-nodes l nl)
     (num-nodes r nr)
     (fd/in nl nr n (fd/interval 0 Integer/MAX_VALUE))
     (fd/eq (= (+ 1 nl nr) n)))))

(defne min-height [n h]
  ([0 0])
  ([n h]
   (fresh [n1 h1]
     (fd/in n1 (fd/interval 0 Integer/MAX_VALUE))
     (fd/> n 0)
     (project [n n1]
              (== (quot n 2) n1)) ;; non-relational
     (min-height n1 h1)
     (fd/+ h1 1 h))))

(defn hbal-tree-nodes [n t]
  (fresh [hmin hmax h]
    (min-height n hmin)
    (max-height n hmax 1 1)
    (fd/>= h hmin)
    (fd/<= h hmax)
    (hbal-tree h t);; requires solution to P59
    (num-nodes t n)))

(defn all-hbal-trees [n]
  (run* [q]
    (hbal-tree-nodes n q)))


ninety-nine-clojure.bintrees> (min-hbal-nodes 4)
ninety-nine-clojure.bintrees> (all-hbal-trees 4 )
([x [x [x nil nil] nil] [x nil nil]] [x [x nil nil] [x [x nil nil] nil]] [x [x nil [x nil nil]] [x nil nil]] [x [x nil nil] [x nil [x nil nil]]])

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