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LeetCode #382: Linked List Random Node

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Problem Statement

(Problem Link) Given a singly linked list, return a random node’s value from the linked list. Each node must have the same probability of being chosen.

Follow up:
What if the linked list is extremely large and its length is unknown to you? Could you solve this efficiently without using extra space?

Example:

// Init a singly linked list [1,2,3].
ListNode head = new ListNode(1);
head.next = new ListNode(2);
head.next.next = new ListNode(3);
Solution solution = new Solution(head);

// getRandom() should return either 1, 2, or 3 randomly. Each element should have equal probability of returning.
solution.getRandom();

Analysis

Reservoir sampling

Reservoir Sampling Sample size 1: Suppose we see a sequence of items, one at a time. We want to keep a single item in memory, and we want it to be selected at random from the sequence. If we know the total number of items (n), then the solution is easy: select an index i between 1 and n with equal probability, and keep the i-th element. The problem is that we do not always know n in advance. A possible solution is the following:

  • Keep the first item in memory.
  • When the i-th item arrives (for i>1):
    • with probability 1/i, keep the new item instead of the current item; or equivalently
    • with probability 1-1/i, keep the current item and discard the new item.

So:
* when there is only one item, it is kept with probability 1;
* when there are 2 items, each of them is kept with probability 1/2;
* when there are 3 items, the third item is kept with probability 1/3, and each of the previous 2 items is also kept with probability (1/2)(1-1/3) = (1/2)(2/3) = 1/3;
* by induction, it is easy to prove that when there are n items, each item is kept with probability 1/n.

Solution

# Definition for singly-linked list.
# class ListNode(object):
#     def __init__(self, x):
#         self.val = x
#         self.next = None

class Solution(object):

    def __init__(self, head):
        """
        @param head The linked list's head.
        Note that the head is guaranteed to be not null, so it contains at least one node.
        :type head: ListNode
        """
        self.head = head


    def getRandom(self):
        """
        Returns a random node's value.
        :rtype: int
        """
        from random import randint


        p = self.head
        res = p.val

        i = 2
        p = p.next
        while p:
            if randint(1, i) == 1:
                res = p.val
            p = p.next
            i += 1

        return res



# Your Solution object will be instantiated and called as such:
# obj = Solution(head)
# param_1 = obj.getRandom()
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