My Advent of Code 2019

I wrote this during and shortly after Advent of Code 2019, but never published it here. Which I'm doing now, just in time before the new 2020 edition :-) I again plan to take part this year (and we've set up a private leaderboard, if you want to join, contact me), but hopefull I'll manage to get a bit less involved..

My code can be found on github

Solutions in Perl.

Most of the time I use App::TimeTracker to see how long it takes me. I generally try the first part after getting up (~8:00 CET), and the second part after my morning yoga or (depending on work stress / problem complexity) later during the day.

Day 1

A very easy start..

Time: 3:00 / 12:14

Rank: 7494 / 6679

Day 2

We meet Intcode, and I try out some new Perl features. Read more about it here.

Time: 23:00 / 06:55 / plus more to clean up

Rank: 5952 / 5091

Day 3

Not very hard, but I used an array to map all the wires instead of an hash to only index the coordinates, which makes the program not very fast. Oh, and I had a "Lattenzaun" error in the second part (which I realized after getting the wrong answer, and I just corrected the error in my head but not in the code; sorry, Farhad)

Time: 36:42 / 14:32

Rank: 4363 / 3493

Day 4

Another simple brute force attack...

Time: ? / 20:33

Rank: 6324 / 5266

Day 5

Yay, I can reuse Oh no, the new modes do not work at all with my previous implementation... hence the long time it took me to solve part 1. And my solution to parse the modes is very ugly (Read about it here where I also describe how I rewrote / cleaned up Intcode)

But adding the new opcodes from part 2 was easy and they fit quite well into!

Time: 1:26:08 / 21:06

Rank: 4192 / 3524

Day 6

Again a not-so-hard problems: graphs. Which I solved by reversing the graph into an array...

Here is a slightly golfed solution for part 2.

Time: 13:35 / 11:45

Rank: 3557 / 2981

Day 7

Intcode again. The first example was not too hard; as I have implemented Intcode in a class, I can just have several instances of the class in one script, where each instance has its own memory.

But part 2 took me ages (about 2 hours, but I was also watching "TV"), mostly because I did not understood how the inputs / signal / phase settings have to be provided to the amplifiers. Only after reading some of the posts on reddit I understood what I was supposed to do.

And I also had to change the whole input/output handling if Intcode...

Time: ? / ?

Rank: 4194 / 6490

Day 8

Some simple Hash / Array munging again. It took me quite a while to realize that I had to actually "render" the image for part 2, so I can read the message...

Time: 20:52 / 20:09

Rank: 6175 / 5624

Day 9

Intcode day!

The large numbers / large memory hints did not bother my Intcode, and the one new opcode / mode was easy to implement. But I wasn't reading the instructions very carefully and did not implement relative mode for writes, which cost me at least 15min of debugging... But task 2 was very easy!

Time: 26:22 / 1:12

Rank: 2651 / 2597

Day 10

That was a tough one. It took me rather long to understand that the asteroids on the map are tiny points and do not take up the whole block (but it says so very clear in the instructions..). But after grabbing some graph paper and drawing the map I realized that this is not an array problem, but has to be solved with vectors. So, math!

I used Math::Vec (because it came up first on CPAN) to calculate the unit vector (or "Einheitsvektor", which sound much cooler in German..), and using this unit vector it was trivial to filter out vectors pointing in the same direction.

After that, I needed a break, and finished the second task in the evening, using a very stupid approach to calculate the angle via tangens, and the sorting the asteroids by angle to nuke them. Even though I was quite proud that I still remembered enough math from school to cobble together my code (using some online math tutorials for the math details), I have the feeling that there are way more elegant solutions than mine...

Time: 1:07:32 / 30:34

Rank: 2441 / 4853

Day 11

Intcode again, but this time there were no changes to the "compiler" necessary, just a simple program using Intcode. For the second part I remembered to "render" the result, reusing the code from day 8 to dump the array in a format where I can read the generated code.

Oh, and I was very lazy and just used a rather big two-dimensional array for the hull, of which only a small part was actually used. But I did not want to handle negative array indices...

Time: 22:22 / 5:20

Rank: 2370 / 2617

Day 12

The first part was rather easy and straightforward (though my code is overly verbose and can probably be compacted to a few lines of dense Perl). For the second part, I was quite sure that I need to use the least common multiple (LCM), but when I calculated it based on the whole position/vector sets, I got wrong results.

After reading reddit, I figured out (from various code fragments) that I can calculate each axis on its own, look for the repetition there, and then use the LCM of the first rep on each axis. Which was easy to implement, but I still have no clue why this works.

Time: 36:50 / 26:31 + a bit more after reading reddit

Rank: 3035 / 2071

Day 13

Part one was a rather easy Intcode exercise, part two not so much.

As I did not want to play the game, I thought I could cheat by looking at the Intcode source of the game to figure out how the scores are calculated. I wasted an hour adding debugging and introspection to Intcode, but made no progress, so I stopped (and baked a cake).

Later I added a manual interface so I could actually play the game, the interface was very clunky and I always died before even coming close to cleaning the board. Reddit suggested writing some AI to steer the paddle, which I did (with a lot of hilarious mistakes on my part) and took me another hour.

But in the end I got a working solution! I added an option to render the game play (at different speeds), and later learned to use byzanz-record to record my term to a gif. To make this nicer, I used some simple unicode chars to render the game.

Time: 07:34 / 02:01:16 plus some time for cleanup and recording a gif

Rank: 2692 / 3338

Day 14

Things start to get annoyingly complex, not sure I want too keep up with it for a lot longer...

In theory, the task looked simple (walk a chain of dependencies, and calculate some sums), but the fact that each reaction produced weird amount of chemicals, and that you have to use the leftovers made this my most-hated task (up to now..). I worked an hour during the late afternoon, and two more after coming back from a friends exhibition.

The second part was then quite easy, though I got some errors because I forgot to reset the leftovers between each run. And I was too lazy to implement a binary search, and just did a quick guesstimate from the commandline, and then run a stupid incrementing brute force attack (all of which took another 20min, but at 1:00 in the morning...)

Time: 02:53:16 / 00:19:12

Rank: 4954 / 4337

Day 15

I hardly notice that I'm using Intcode anymore :-)

Getting to move the droid through the maze was not that hard, but I could not figure out how to implement a proper maze solver, so I went for a "random mouse" approach, which I later finetuned to not enter known dead-ends again.

I actually found the oxygen system quite fast using a pure random approach, but spend about 30 minutes implementing the dead-end detection (because some random runs took ages, and I didn't figure out how to calculate the minimum distance)

Getting the minimum distance turned out to be quite easy: I just counted the steps and stored them at each coordinate; if I later backtracked through an already visited point, I started counting again from the distance stored there.

Here is a gif for part 1

For the second part I took a maybe weird approach: From a previous run, I had a complete map lying around (when the random mouse was very thorough), so I applied 4 regex to simulate the spread of the oxygen:

``` $maze=~s/.O/oO/g; # spread left $maze=~s/O(.{$width})./O$1o/sg; # spread down



I missed a few corner cases in my first try:

  • s/.O/OO/g would allow the next regex to pick up an oxygen that was just generated, so I changed the 4 regex to s/.O/Oo/g and then converted o to O after all where done.
  • a bit trickier to catch was that if there were two up/downward spreads in the same row, only one would match, so I packed each regex into a while-loop

And here is a gif for part 2

Time: 02:05:27 / 00:45:56

Rank: 3015 / 2794

Day 16

A not too hard first part (though my solution is rather convoluted), and a second part I could have never solved without reddit and looking at various solutions.

I found [this comment]: especially helpful. As pointed out on reddit, the sequence we are looking for is always in the second half of the signal. But the pattern for the second half will only consist of 0 and 1. So we can calculate the next row by working through the current row from behind:

this_phase: ... 6 9 9 8 next_phase: ... ? ? ? ?

Work from right to left (i.e. reverse the list). For the last digit, just copy the last digit to the next row (because the last pattern will always be … 0 0 0 1, so we need to add a lot of zeros to 1 * last digit)

this_phase: ... 6 9 9 8 next_phase: ... ? ? ? 8

From then on, take the current digit and add the all the following digits, because the pattern will always be … 0 1 1+. But as we store the sum of this calculation into the next row, we don't have to always calc this long sum. We can just re-use the result of the last calculation, i.e. the field in the next phase we have just calculated:

this_phase: ... 6 9 >9< 8 next_phase: ... ? ? ? >8<

8 + 9 = 17, take the last digit (i.e. modulo 10) and store it in the next phase

this_phase: ... 6 9 9 8 next_phase: ... ? ? >7< 8

In the next phase the pre-calced sum trick should be obvious:

this_phase: ... 6 9 9 8 next_phase: ... ? >?< 7 8

We could do 9 + 9 + 8 = 16. But we have just calculated 9 + 8 = 17 => mod 10 => 7 and stored this in the next row. And thanks to math, 9 + 7 = 16 => mod 10 => 6 yields the same result as 9 + 9 + 8 = 16 => mod 10 => 6. yay!

so, this will be much quicker: 9 + 7 = 16 => 6; 6 + 6 = 12 => 2, ...

Time: 36:38 / at least 2 hours

Rank: 2612 / 2374 - wow, good rank at 12:52:09 :-)

Day 17

That was a nice one, by favorite puzzle so far!

The first part was rather easy, just convert the Incode output to ASCII and then walk the map to find intersections.

For the second part, it took me some time to rework my run-loop to handle all the input/output (I should really add a proper prompt method to Intcode). I really liked the "live video feed" feature and spend some time implementing a clear-screen feature so I can properly view the feed.

For solving the actual puzzle, I was too lazy to implement anything. Instead I just counted the steps / directions by hand, wrote them down, and very easily spotted the correct pattern. This took my less then 10 minutes, considerably faster then any smart solution I could code (the human brain is a quite powerful computer / pattern detector, especially when we're only caring about one case...)

Time: 28:24 / 56:41 (45min to get IO etc working, then 10 minutes to solve the maze by hand)

Rank: 2072 / 1062 (damn it, just missed 3 digits, but best rank ever)

Day 18

No, thanks!

Time: - / -

Rank: - / -

Day 19

Part 1 was another easy Intcode test. Part 2 was not that hard (in the end), but I managed to fuck up quite spectacularly.

First I was doing a lookahead 100 rows down, but always used the same y coordinate. But of course you have to go to the end of the current row, subtract 100 and look down from there. As I wasn't finding anything, I did quite some calculations on the slope of the beam, and jumped 10.000 rows ahead. But I could never find something because I was looking in the wrong place.

After I realized that I implemented a proper lookahead, but I called my scan function with bad params (I forgot to pass in the row, so I was always checking the 0th row... I guess one can find an argument for strong typing or at least param validation / signatures here...)

After I fixed that, I found the result reasonably fast using brute force (and some skipping).

Time: 08:59 / 02:47:06

Rank: 1731 / 1862

Day 20

ugh, another maze. I still don't feel like a rat, so another skip for me...

But maybe I should learn how to write a maze solver some time before next advent :-)

Time: - / -

Rank: - / -

Day 21++

if ($holidays->started) { $me->stop('advent') }

I might do some/all tasks later...

Day 22 (part 2 done on the 28th)

Some simple array munging, which does not scale for part 2 :-(

I "solved" part 2 on the 28th; even after reading a lot of the reddit posts, I had no idea how to implement the math. So I took the Python code found here and reimplemented it in Perl, which is rather convoluted thanks to Math::BigInt (well, at least it works...). But after getting the correct result, I figured out how to replace most of the method calls like bmul and bsub with overloaded operators, making the final code much cleaner (and more similar to the Python solution).

Time: 32:06 / 01:24:17

Rank: 2984 / 2617

Day 23 (done on 27th evening)

Some nice Intcode hacking, I added some more helpers to my Intcode (and needed to finally add buffered output..)

Part 1 was rather easy and straight-forward: set up 50 Intcode machines, loop through each one, set some input, get the output and set the next inputs.

Part 2 was basically the same, but I had a problem in my Intcode, where output values would be lost unless you very carefully collect return values. As this was too fragile, I finally added some buffered output helper methods.

Time: 33:04 / 01:09:23

Rank: 3463 / 3328

Day 24 (done on 27th morning)

The first part was a rather easy Game Of Life, which I implemented using nested arrays.

For the second part I converted my data structure to an hash using a string for level/row/col (-3;1;3) for the index. I solved the recursion by pushing new layer-tiles onto a queue (well, an array...), but somehow added a new layer each minute, resulting in a lot of empty layers. But as the runtime is 14s, I'm not very motivated to fix that bug. Oh, and I lost aprox 10 minutes because I still used the test data when submitting my result (and then tried to figure out what the bug could be..)

Time: 33:44 / 1:56:39

Rank: 3975 / 2896

Day 25

Hm, it was very easy to get some Intcode processor to manually explore the ship and figure out which items to collect where. Then it took me ages to correctly use Math::Combinatorics to get all the combinations of items to try. And in the end my Intcode just crashed after providing the hopefully correct solution (which I fixed now, see next para)

I verified my solution using somebody elses solution. ~~So it seems there is a bug in my Intcode???~~ No, the problem was that for debugging I buffered the output, but did not print the output after the last iteration. D'oh!

Time: 2:17:57 / -

Rank: 2142 / -