# Robot Block Command

## Problem

We have a robot that can pickup blocks from a stash, move them horizontally and lower them in place. There are 10 positions available to lower blocks number 0 to 9. Each position can hold up to 15 blocks.

The robot understands the commands 'P', 'M' and 'L':

• P: Pickup from the stash and move to position 0
• M: Move to the Next Position
• L: Lower the block

The robot is safe to operate and very forgiving:

• There are always blocks in the stash (Pickup always gets a block)
• If the robot already holds a block, Pickup will reset position to 0
• The robot will not go beyond position 9, Trying to move further does nothing
• Lowering the block on a pile of 15 does nothing
• Lowering without a block does nothing
• Robot ignores any command that is not 'P', 'M','L'

Implement a function that takes a String of commands for the robot. The function should output String representing the number of blocks (in hexadecimal) at each position after running all the commands

## Solution

I have implemented it and it works fine and all but I feel like this is not the correct way.

Key errors I feel are how I determine Hexadecimal values from A to F. What is the correct way of doing this other than using a hashmap?

Also, processing of each command using switch-case feels so verbose as well.

Has anyone solved this problem before? What's the optimal way of doing this?

private static int[] stash = new int[10];
private static HashMap<Integer, String> map = new HashMap<Integer, String>();
public static void main(String[] args) {
map.put(10, "A");
map.put(11, "B");
map.put(12, "C");
map.put(13, "D");
map.put(14, "E");
map.put(15, "F");

String command = "PMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMMMLPMLPMMLPMMMMMMMMMMLPMMMMMMMMMML";
executeCommand(command);
}

private static void executeCommand(String command) {
int block = 0;
int stashLocation = 0;
for (Character c : command.toCharArray()) {
switch (c) {
case 'P':
if (block == 0) {
block = 1;
} else {
stashLocation = 0;
}
break;
case 'M':
if (stashLocation < 9) {
stashLocation++;
}
break;
case 'L':
if (block != 0 && stash[stashLocation] < 15) {
stash[stashLocation] = stash[stashLocation] + 1;
block = 0;
stashLocation = 0;
}
break;
}
}
Arrays.stream(stash).forEach(val -> {
if (map.containsKey(val)) {
System.out.print(map.get(val));
} else {
System.out.print(val);
}
});
}

• P and L actions do not match the problem statement (P should always move arm to position 0, L should not change the arm position).
– vnp
Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 18:43

Your code doesn't really take advantage of the object oriented features of Java. You have everything in one file with one object manipulating the state of several things: The robotic arm, the stash, and the piles. This makes the code tightly coupled and hard to change. Generally, your variable naming is clear and follows Java best practices: block, stashLocation, etc. Personally I'd use a boolean for the block, not an int, as your robot either has or doesn't have a block. That'd also clean up the if clauses:

boolean hasBlock = false;
// other code here
if (hasBlock) {
doSomethingWithBlock();
}


Regarding your specific questions:

Use Java's print formatting functions String.format and it's likes: String hex = String.format("%02X", 15) will assign the value 0xF to the variable hex. Read up on String.format and the format specifiers

## Command processing

For this case, I think it's fine to use a switch case to act on the commands. Somehow, you have to identify each single command char, and a switch is a good way here. What I would do, though, is break out the actual commands into separate functions, and only call them from the case statement:

for (char cmd : command.toCharArray()) {
switch (cmd) {
case 'P':
pickup();
break;
case 'M':
move();
break;
case 'L':
lower();
break;
default:
System.out.format("Unknown command %c", cmd);
}
}

void pickup() { /* function definition here */ }
void move() { /* function definition here */ }
void lower() { /* function definition here */ }


Of course, one could get fancy here and map the command chars to a lambda or something, but that might be overkill. A small improvement could be to use an enum for the commands, and switch on that.

## My implementation

This was a fun task, and here is my implementation. I split the Robot and the Piles into own classes, coordinated by the Main class. I thought about separating the Stash also, but since it had next to no business logic, I left in in the Robot (just setting hasBlock to true in pickup). By using objects, the printing of status can be "automated" by using the toString() method, as I've done below.

Piles.java

public class Piles {

public Piles(int width, int height) {
this.width = width - 1; // - 1 because of zreo indexing
this.height = height;
piles = new int[width];
}

public boolean drop(int position) {
boolean positionValid = position <= (this.width - 1);
boolean pileAvailable = this.piles[position] < this.height;

if (positionValid && pileAvailable) {
piles[position]++;
}

return positionValid && pileAvailable;
}

@Override
public String toString() {
StringBuffer res = new StringBuffer();

for (int i = 0; i < piles.length; i++) {
res.append(String.format("%d: %02x ", i, piles[i]));
}
return res.toString();
}

public int getWidth() {
return this.width;
}

public int getHeight() {
return this.height;
}

/* PRIVATE */
private final int width;
private final int height;

private final int[] piles;

}


Robot.java

public class Robot {

public Robot(Piles piles) {
this.maxWidth = piles.getWidth();
this.piles = piles;

}

public void execute(String command) {
for (char cmd : command.toCharArray()) {
switch (cmd) {
case 'P':
pickup();
break;
case 'M':
move();
break;
case 'L':
lower();
break;
default:
System.out.format("Unknown command %c", cmd);
}
}
System.out.println(piles);
}

@Override
public String toString() {
return String.format("Robot is at position %d %s a block", position, hasBlock ? "with" : "without");
}

/* PRIVATE */

private final Piles piles;
private final int maxWidth;
private int position = 0;
private boolean hasBlock = false;

/* Pick up a block from the stash.
* The rules are:
* - the stash is never empty
* - after pickup, move to position 0
* - if the robot already holds a block, reset position to 0
*/
private void pickup() {
hasBlock = true;
position = 0;
}

/* Advance the robot one step
* The rules are:
* - the robot will not go beyond maxWidth, trying to move further does nothing.
*/
private void move() {
position = Math.min(++position, maxWidth);
}

/* Lower a block to the pile at the current location.
* The rules are:
* - lowering the block on a pile of 15 does nothing
* - lowering without a block does nothing
*/
private void lower() {
if (piles.drop(position)) {
hasBlock = false;
}
}
}


Main.java

public class Main {

public static void main(String[] args) {

Robot robot = new Robot(new Piles(10, 15));
System.out.println(robot);

robot.execute("PMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPMLPML");
robot.execute("PLPLPMMMMML");

}
}