Perl Weekly Challenge 112

6 minute read

A little string manipulation and recursion today. My solution to task 2 is almost the same as my solution to Advent of Code 2020: Day 10 (part 2)!

Task 1: Canonical Path

You are given a string path, starting with a slash ‘/’.

Write a script to convert the given absolute path to the simplified canonical path.

In a Unix-style file system:

- A period '.' refers to the current directory
- A double period '..' refers to the directory up a level
- Multiple consecutive slashes ('//') are treated as a single slash '/'

The canonical path format:

- The path starts with a single slash '/'.
- Any two directories are separated by a single slash '/'.
- The path does not end with a trailing '/'.
- The path only contains the directories on the path from the root directory to the target file or directory


Input: "/a/"
Output: "/a"

Input: "/a/b//c/"
Output: "/a/b/c"

Input: "/a/b/c/../.."
Output: "/a"


GitHub Link

See below for explanation and any implementation-specific comments.

sub challenge(Str $path is copy) returns Str {                  # [1]
  die "Must be an absolute path" unless $path.starts-with('/'); # [2]
  $path = $path.substr(1);                              # [3]
  $path = $path.subst(/\/ ** 2..*/, '/', :global);      # [4][5]
  $path = $path.substr(0, *-1) if $path.ends-with('/'); # [6]

  my @output;
  for $path.split('/') -> $dir {
    given $dir {
      when '.' { Nil }                            # [7]
      when '..' {
        die "Illegal path" if @output.elems == 0;
      default { @output.push($dir) }
  '/' ~ @output.join('/')

sub MAIN(Str $path) {
  say challenge($path);

This program runs as such:

$ raku ch-1.raku /a/b//c


We basically just follow the following steps:

  1. Does the path start with a slash?
    • If yes, remove it and continue.
    • If not, die, since the problem indicates we are given a path starting with a slash.
  2. Replace any duplicate slashes with a single slash.
  3. Remove the trailing slash if it exists.
  4. We should now have something that looks like a/b/c and we split it into a list that looks like (a, b, c).
  5. Iterate through the above list and take one of three actions depending on what item we encounter:
    • If we hit ., it is just redundant and we can continue.
    • If we hit .., we need to remove the most recent item from @output. As a caveat, if @output is empty and we encounter .., it will throw an error.
    • If we hit anything else (i.e., a normal directory), we can just add it to the end of @output.
  6. Finally, we just join @output into a path using slashes, and prepend a slash onto it to make it an absolute path.

Specific comments

  1. Since we are mutating $path within the subroutine, we need to declare it as is copy.
  2. The question says our input must start with a slash. So we die unless it has the correct input.
  3. If we reach this line, that means the $path does start with a slash, and we need to remove it using substr.
  4. We want to replace any instance where there are two or more slashes in a row. That is what this regex means /\/ ** 2..*/; \/ means “literal slash” and 2..* means “two or more times.” We replace all of these instances with a single slash, and we want to do it for the whole string, hence :global.
  5. As an aside, I hate that substr (substring) and subst (substitute) are so close in spelling. I feel the former should be named slice and the latter replace.
  6. If our path ends with a slash, we want to remove it so that when we split we don’t get an empty entry.
  7. Don’t really know if Nil is the right thing to do here. In Scala, it would just be case "." => with nothing on the right-hand side of the arrow. I figured an empty block or Nil is safe since we don’t want this case to fall into default.

Task 2: Climb Stairs

You are given $n steps to climb

Write a script to find out the distinct ways to climb to the top. You are allowed to climb either 1 or 2 steps at a time.


Input: $n = 3
Output: 3

    Option 1: 1 step + 1 step + 1 step
    Option 2: 1 step + 2 steps
    Option 3: 2 steps + 1 step

Input: $n = 4
Output: 5

    Option 1: 1 step + 1 step + 1 step + 1 step
    Option 2: 1 step + 1 step + 2 steps
    Option 3: 2 steps + 1 step + 1 step
    Option 4: 1 step + 2 steps + 1 step
    Option 5: 2 steps + 2 steps


GitHub Link

See below for explanation and any implementation-specific comments.

use experimental :cached; # [1]

sub challenge(
  $max where Int,
  @paths where Positional = (^$max), # [2][3]
  $current-step where Int = 0
) is cached {
  given $current-step {
    when * == $max { 1 }
    when * > $max  { 0 }
    default {
      challenge($max, @paths, $current-step + 1) +
      challenge($max, @paths, $current-step + 2)

sub MAIN(Int $n) {
  say challenge($n);

This program runs as such:

$ raku ch-2.raku 4


This one is actually pretty straight forward, even if it doesn’t seem as such. Basically, challenge will construct a list from 0..^$n; so for $n = 3 we would get (0, 1, 2). Starting at step 0 we check 2 conditions:

  1. Are we at the top of the steps? If so, stop and mark this path as valid (1).
  2. Are we above the top of the steps? If so, stop and mark this path as invalid (0).

If we don’t match either of the above conditions, we try both a step size of 1 and 2 recursively. So essentially this is a brute force approach, but it is efficient because we have memoized our subroutine using the is cached trait. This means that once it has done the computation for challenge(3, (0, 1, 2), 2), the next time it sees that same input, it will always return the same result. Since a step size of 1 and 2 will have some overlap in individual steps, this makes this approach incredibly efficient.

Since the end conditions only return 0 or 1, the default block actually handles summing the valid paths.

Specific Comments

  1. is cached is an experimental feature and needs to be explicitly imported.
  2. Normally you see me write Int $foo instead of $foo where Int. This fails for positionals and hashes; Int @foo indicates a positional of ints (since the @ sigil already indicates it is a positional). So why didn’t I just do that? I tried. It fails with expected Positional[Int] but got Range (^10), which I think is stupid. So this is a way to kind of strongly-type it; better than nothing I guess.
  3. I think it is cool that I can use $max in the default of @paths here!

Final Thoughts

Pretty easy this week, but that is mostly because I was able to copy an older solution of mine for task two. Should I have done something new/different? Probably, but oh well. See y’all next week!