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Dec 96 Challenge
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:12
Column Tag:Programmer’s Challenge

Programmer’s Challenge

by Bob Boonstra


The Challenge this month is to write code that will solve a tangram puzzle - that is, reassemble a two-dimensional shape that has been cut into a number of smaller shapes. The classic tangram consists of five right triangles of three different sizes, a square, and a rhomboid that are to be reassembled into a larger square. Your code will have to deal with a more general set of polygons. The prototype for the code you should write is:

#define kMaxVertices 10

typedef struct MyVertex {
 float  h;/* horizontal coordinate of vertex */
 float  v;/* vertical coordinate of vertex */
} MyVertex;

typedef struct MyPolygon {
    long     numVertices;/* number of vertices in polygon */
    MyVertex vertex[kMaxVertices];        /* vertex coordinates */
} MyPolygon;

typedef struct MyTransform {
    float     flipH;         /* optionally flip polygon about this horiz coordinate */
    float     rotateClockwise;      /* then rotate polygon clockwise by this many                                        
    radians */
    float     rotateCenterH;   /* around the point with this horiz coordinate */
    float     rotateCenterV;   /* and with this vertical coordinate */
    float     translateH;    /* then translate horizontally by this amount */
 float  translateV;/* then translate vertically by this amount */
    Boolean doFilp;                /* only perform flip if this is TRUE */
} MyTransform;

void SolveTangram(
    MyPolygon     *theShape,          /* shape to be reassembled */
    long     numHoles,            /* shape has this many holes (>=0) */
    MyPolygon     *theHoles[],  /* pointers to polygons that form the holes */
    long     numPieces,   /* number of pieces to reassemble */
    MyPolygon     *thePieces[],      /* shape and position of pieces to reassemble */
    MyTransform *theXForms[]      /* reassembly transforms corresponding to  thePieces */

The shape to be reassembled is a polygon pointed to by theShape, except that the reassembled shape may have some holes in it. The number of holes, which might be zero, is provided by numHoles, and the shape of the i-th hole is a polygon pointed to by theHoles[i]. You are to reassemble theShape using numPieces polygons pointed to by thePieces[]. For each piece, you should transform it to its correct position by optionally flipping it about a vertical axis, rotating it, and translating it, in that order. For the j-th piece, you should store the required transformation in the structure pointed to by theXForms[j]. Set doFilp to FALSE if no flip is needed, otherwise set doFilp to TRUE to flip the horizontal coordinates about the vertical axis with horizontal coordinate flipH. Set rotateClockwise to the number of radians that the piece should be rotated about the point (rotateCenterH, rotateCenterV). Finally, set translateH and translateV to the amount that the piece should be moved in the horizontal and vertical directions, respectively.

Calculations should be accurate to .00001, meaning that when I apply your transformations using the sin() and cos() library functions, the resulting positions should agree with theShape to within that accuracy.

All of the polygons will be legal polygons - no edge formed by a pair of adjacent vertices will intersect any other edge in the same polygon except at a vertex. The last vertex in each polygon connects to the first vertex (i.e., a square will have four vertices, not a fifth that is the same as the first). All of theHoles in the shape to be reassembled will be strictly inside theShape, not intersecting the edges. No hole will intersect any other hole. You may allocate up to 10MB of memory for your own use, provided you deallocate any allocated memory prior to returning.

This will be a native PowerPC Challenge, using the latest CodeWarrior environment. Solutions may be coded in C, C++, or Pascal. The winner will be the solution that solves my set of test tangrams in the shortest amount of time. And thanks go out to Ernst Munter for suggesting this Challenge - he wins two contest points for the suggestion.

Two Months Ago Winner

Congratulations to... Well, that is what you would normally read in this part of the column. Alas, the realities of publication deadlines have forced us to make a change in when we publish the winning solution. Perhaps an example of the publishing schedule for this, the December issue which ships in mid-November, would help me explain. Most of the articles for this issue were due to the editorial staff on September 23. Now, if that seems like a lot of lead time to you, it does to me also. However, people who know a lot more about publishing than I do assure me that This Is The Way It Is (e.g., most monthlies have 4-6 month lead times). I believe them - what does a software guy know about publishing deadlines anyway?

Well, I know enough simple arithmetic to realize that it is difficult to include a solution submitted on October 1 in an article due on September 23. The publishers, being just as good at arithmetic, also figured this out, so they have always given me a little extra time to write the Challenge column. That presented the magazine with a Challenge of its own, in that the Challenge column is very unpredictable in length, making magazine layout difficult.

We always try to guess how long the column is going to be, but that means guessing how long the winning solutions are going to be. Sometimes the solutions do not cooperate by being predictable in length. The Challenge deadlines (mine, not yours) kept creeping toward the 1st-of-the-month solution submission deadline. Sometimes there was only one day to compile the solutions, score them, select the winner, and write the column. Sometimes that one day was a day when that Real Job got in the way. (That’s right kids, you can’t make a living writing the Programmer’s Challenge column.) Soooo, in undeniable recognition of publishing reality and our continued goal of improving the magazine, we have reluctantly decided that we need to publish the winning solution three months after we publish the puzzle, instead of two. That is why you are reading this explanation instead of a description of the winning solution to the DNA Match Challenge.

Seriously though, this change will provide me with a more reasonable amount of time to analyze submitted solutions and hopefully point out more interesting and useful features of competitive solutions. For Challenge contestants, we will be announcing the identity of the winner on the CHALLENGE email list at approximately the time that we would have published under the previous arrangement. We hope that this change, in addition to restoring some sanity to the publishing schedule, will allow us to produce a more informative and interesting column. See you next month.


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