Understand what the interviewer is asking for by using test cases and questions about the problem.
- Established a set (2-3) of test cases to verify their own solution later.
- Established a set (1-2) of edge cases to verify their solution handles complexities.
- Have fully understood the problem and have no clarifying questions.
- Have you verified any Time/Space Constraints for this problem?
Be sure that you clarify the input and output parameters of the problem:
Run through a set of example cases:
HAPPY CASE Input: asteroids = [5,10,-5] Output: [5,10] Input: asteroids = [8,-8] Output:  Explanation: The 8 and -8 collide exploding each other. EDGE CASE Input: asteroids = [10,2,-5] Output:  Explanation: The 2 and -5 collide resulting in -5. The 10 and -5 collide resulting in 10.
For this string problem, we can think about the following techniques:
Sort If the given string is given in a proper order, the string can be are sorted in a specified arrangement.
Two pointer solutions (left and right pointer variables) A two pointer solution would be used if you are searching pairs in a sorted array.
Storing the elements of the array in a HashMap or a Set A hashmap will allow us to store object and retrieve it in constant time, provided we know the key.
Traversing the array with a sliding window Using a sliding window is iterable and ordered and is normally used for a longest, shortest or optimal sequence that satisfies a given condition.
Plan the solution with appropriate visualizations and pseudocode.
General Idea: We can use a stack to efficiently simulate the collisions.
1. Declare a stack 2. Pick an asteroid one by one from the list of asteroids 3. Pay attention to an asteroid if it is negative, else simply push it into the stack. Analyze the Stack from top to bottom and do some operations on it until our desired condition is met. Those operations are: a) If the top of the Stack has a lesser magnitude than the current asteroid, we destroy (pop) it. b) Else If the top of the stack is Negative or the Stack got empty, push the current asteroid. c) Else If the top of the stack has the same magnitude and has a positive sign, pop it, and also destroy the current asteroid. d) Else If the top of the stack is positive and has a greater magnitude, destroy the current asteroid (i.e., do no changes to the stack and pick the next asteroid)
⚠️ Common Mistakes
Implement the code to solve the algorithm.
class Solution: def asteroidCollision(self, asteroids: List[int]) -> List[int]: stack =  for asteroid in asteroids: # if there's things on the stack, we need to consider if we've got case 4 while stack and stack[-1] > 0 and asteroid < 0: # determine which asteroids are exploding if abs(stack[-1]) < abs(asteroid): stack.pop() # considered asteroid might still destroy others so continue checking continue elif abs(stack[-1]) == abs(asteroid): stack.pop() break # if nothing on the stack, or cases 1-3, just append else: stack.append(asteroid) return stack
class Solution: def asteroidCollision(self, asteroids: List[int]) -> List[int]: stack =  for ast in asteroids: if stack and ast < 0 < stack[-1]: # collision occurs if +ast top of stack meets -ast coming in while stack and stack[-1] > 0 and stack[-1] < abs(ast): # keep crushing smaller +ast stack.pop() if not stack or stack[-1] < 0: # no more to crush or meets -ast stack.append(ast) elif stack[-1] == abs(ast): # equal explosion stack.pop() else: stack.append(ast) return stack
Review the code by running specific example(s) and recording values (watchlist) of your code's variables along the way.
Evaluate the performance of your algorithm and state any strong/weak or future potential work.