Advent of Code 2021 in Kotlin - Day 10


The Day 10 problem is some modification of well known at Computer Science studies problem called Brackets Pairing for which we have to verify the given brackets expression. It’s valid if every type of parenthesis is closed after opening and the closing brackets matches the opening brackets as in standard math expressions.


We can easily solve this problem in linear memory using Stack<Char> structure to keep the characters representing opened brackets in already processed expression. So we need to

  1. Read current character
  2. Check if it’s opening or closing bracket
    • If it’s an opening bracket, then push it to stack of history of characters
    • If it’s a closing bracket, then pop the latest bracket from stack, find its closed alternative and check if it matches the current closing bracket

It’s worth noticing that in stack we will always have only opening brackets as we push values to memory only for them (so our closed property of Char will never fail here).

In the first part we want to process the characters from every line until we find a corruption in data so not matching closed bracket. The firstOrNull seems to be the best choice here as it will stop searching for character as soon as it finds first.

In the second part we need to find the lines that are partially invalid i.e. there is no corrupted data but the data is unfinished. That means in our stack structure there will be left some brackets that were not matched during the process. We need to go through them and from the end and calculate the score, according to given rules. The simplest and most straightforward approach here is to use the foldRight extension function that allows us to accumulate some value and update it when iterating over some data from right to left (so from end to beginning).

It’s worth noting here that in case of Kotlin, foldRight is almost identical to fold (i.e. foldLeft) function because lists in Kotlin (and stacks too) are implemented as arrays, so we can iterate over them in any direction with the same constant cost in memory. In functional programming languages lists are represented usually as the head and the reference to the tail of the list - in such case processing lists from left to right is also cheap, but from right to left needs from us to build the whole stack of calls on list elements to get to the last element first and then to process the next elements in the reversed order.


import java.util.*

object Day10 : AdventDay() {
  override fun solve() {
    val lines = reads<String>() ?: return

    lines.sumOf { it.corruptedScore() }.printIt()
    lines.mapNotNull { it.completionScore() }.sorted().let { it[it.size / 2] }.printIt()

private val OPEN = setOf('[', '{', '(', '<')
private val CLOSE = setOf(']', '}', ')', '>')

private val Char.closed: Char?
  get() = when (this) {
    '{' -> '}'
    '(' -> ')'
    '[' -> ']'
    '<' -> '>'
    else -> null

private fun String.corruptedScore(): Int {
  val stack = Stack<Char>()
  val firstCorrupted = firstOrNull { c ->
    when (c) {
      in OPEN -> stack.push(c).let { false }
      in CLOSE -> stack.pop().closed != c
      else -> unknownBracket(c)
  return when (firstCorrupted) {
    ')' -> 3
    ']' -> 57
    '}' -> 1197
    '>' -> 25137
    else -> 0

private fun String.completionScore(): Long? {
  val stack = Stack<Char>()
  for (c in this) {
    when (c) {
      in OPEN -> stack.push(c)
      in CLOSE -> if (stack.pop().closed != c) return null
      else -> unknownBracket(c)
  return stack.foldRight(0L) { c, sum ->
    5 * sum + when (c.closed) {
      ')' -> 1
      ']' -> 2
      '}' -> 3
      '>' -> 4
      else -> unknownBracket(c)

private fun unknownBracket(c: Char): Nothing =
  throw IllegalArgumentException("Unknown bracket: $c")

Extra notes

It’s worth noting how the unknownBracket function is implemented - it’s return type is Nothing what means in Kotlin that the control will never exit this function (function will return nothing) without throwing an exception. It’s the same way as the helper function TODO from standard library is defined.

inline fun TODO(): Nothing = throw NotImplementedError()

The purpose of such definition is to give the compiler the hint that it doesn’t have to take care of the value returned from the function (so also about the type of the value returned and doesn’t care about it when analyzing e.g. when expressions).

Student of Computer Science

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