Advent of Code 2020 in Kotlin - Day 3


The Day 3 presents a problem of traversing in some regular way through the given data structure. In our case it’s just an ordered collections of Strings that can be seen as a matrix of chars which are traversed in 2 dimensions.

We have to check how many of the “trees” would we encounter during the walk over given structure.


Traditionally, we begin with a code solution and the approach to problem becomes pretty straightforward - we simulate all the steps of the walk and verify what’s on our current position.

object Day3 : AdventDay() {
  override fun solve() {
    val lines = reads<String>() ?: return
    (3 to 1 steppedIn lines).printIt()
      1 to 1,
      3 to 1,
      5 to 1,
      7 to 1,
      1 to 2,
      .map { it steppedIn lines }
      .fold(1L, Long::times)

infix fun Pair<Int, Int>.steppedIn(lines: List<String>): Int {
  val (x, y) = this
  return generateSequence(0, Int::inc)
    .takeWhile { it * y < lines.size }
    .count {
      val line = lines[it * y]
      line[(it * x) % line.length] == '#'

Personal thoughts

We can notice a few small features of Kotlin code that make it more pleasant to be read in this task’s code snippet.

Notice first the usage of the created infix fun that was created with this approach only for the readability of the code. It allowed us to write 3 to 1 steppedIn lines which can be understood as “make (3, 1) steps on the given map representation”. It’s even more readable when defined for the collection of different steps that we execute for the second task.

More interesting part is the concept of Sequence<T> in programming languages. We should remember, that the sequence is somehow different from collection, because it’s processed lazily. It brings extra cost which is noticeable only when the sequence is pretty small. Let’s visit the Kotlin sequences documentation to see great illustration of the approach to collections processing by sequences.

We should notice the possibility to work with sequences every time we process some more regular collection of data that requires some modifications of its elements in separate steps. In this task, approach that uses sequences really simplifies the solution code and allows us to express our intentions directly - simulate stepping down through the map while we are still on the map and count the number of fields on which we see the '#''.

And finally, notice how the pair is destructured to its elements - it’s quite common to use this feature for Pair<T, U> or Triple<T, U, V> but we can use it for any class that has the proper operator implementation (see full description in Kotlin documentation) and the data classes offer implementation to its components for free 🕶.

Student of Computer Science

My interests include robotics (mainly with Arduino), mobile development for Android (love Kotlin) and Java SE/EE applications development.