Sunday, August 21, 2011

Find unique number

You are given an array that contains integers. The integers content is such that every integer occurs 3 times in that array leaving one integer that appears only once. Fastest way to find that single integer


First thing that I was considering is to use XOR, because x^x = 0 so all the numbers that are replicated 2 times will be deleted and the unique number that is not duplicated will stay there. But here the numbers are duplicated 3 times and x^x^x=x so this would not help. We can remove items that are duplicated a even number of times.

So we need an alternative way based on logic operations. For each element A[i]

1. get elements that appear 1 time  ->  ones =^x; (remove)
2. get elements that appear 2 times -> two |= ones & x; (needs to be before previous remove operation)
3. get elements that appear 3 times -> three = ones & two
4. get elements that not appear 3 times  ~three
5. remove the one not appearing 3 times from one and two -> one &= ~three; two &= ~three

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