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Assignment #6: Pathogen

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Programming Assignment #6: Pathogen
COP 3503
Abstract
In this assignment, you will determine all safe and valid paths to an exit in an
arbitrary ASCII maze that is potentially riddled with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that
causes COVID-19). You are required to take a backtracking approach to this
problem, which means that by completing this assignment, you will attain a deeper
understanding of the general structure of recursive backtracking algorithms.
This program requires you to modify the maze backtracking code I presented in
class, and so it will also give you some experience reading, comprehending, and
modifying a fairly sophisticated piece of code that someone else has written –

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Description

5/5 - (2 votes)

Programming Assignment #6: Pathogen
COP 3503
Abstract
In this assignment, you will determine all safe and valid paths to an exit in an
arbitrary ASCII maze that is potentially riddled with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that
causes COVID-19). You are required to take a backtracking approach to this
problem, which means that by completing this assignment, you will attain a deeper
understanding of the general structure of recursive backtracking algorithms.
This program requires you to modify the maze backtracking code I presented in
class, and so it will also give you some experience reading, comprehending, and
modifying a fairly sophisticated piece of code that someone else has written –
something you’ll be doing quite a lot if you end up pursuing a career in software
engineering.
As you begin to work on this assignment, you might find it helpful to refer to my
backtracking notes in Webcourses. In particular, see the section titled, “Basic
Anatomy of a Backtracking Algorithm.”
Credit goes to Marty Power, one my long-time TAs who graduated recently, for
proposing this as an assignment idea (although I sprinkled the coronavirus on top).
Thank you, Marty!
Deliverables
Pathogen.java
Note! The capitalization and spelling of your filename matter!
Note! Code must be tested on Eustis, but submitted via Webcourses.
1. Problem Statement
In this assignment, you will write a function that takes in a 2D char array representing an ASCII maze and
returns a HashSet of all possible paths from a person’s starting position in the maze to its exit.
Movement through these mazes is restricted to four directions: up, down, left, and right. All the mazes we pass to
your backtracking function in this program are guaranteed to abide by the following restrictions:
• The 2D char array will be a rectangle (which means that all rows in the array will have the same length).
• The 2D char array passed to your backtracking function will contain only the following characters:
◦ ‘@’ – This character denotes the person in the maze. There will be exactly one of these characters in
the maze (no more and no fewer), and it could appear anywhere in the maze.
◦ ‘e’ – This is the exit that the person in the maze is trying to reach. There will always be exactly one
exit in the maze (no more and no fewer), and it could appear anywhere in the maze.
◦ ‘#’ – This character denotes a wall. The person in the maze cannot step on one of these spaces.
◦ ‘*’ – This character denotes the coronavirus. The person in the maze must not walk on these spaces.
◦ ‘ ’ – This character denotes a space where the person in the maze is allowed to walk.
There are no guarantees regarding the number of walls in the maze or the locations of those walls. It’s possible
that the border of the maze might not be made up entirely of walls (i.e., it might contain spaces), in which case,
it’s up to you to make sure the person in the maze does not go outside the bounds of the 2D array. Note also that
the initial positions of the ‘@’ and ‘e’ characters may vary from maze to maze. The coronavirus might not be
present in every maze, and if it is, it could occur in multiple locations or just one.
2. Path Format
Consider, for example, the maze shown below (far left diagram). For the purposes of this assignment, there are
exactly two valid paths from the ‘@’ character to the exit:
###########
# #@ *##
# # ## ##
# ### ## ##
# e ##
##### ## ##
##### #
###########
###########
# #. *##
#…# ## ##
#.### ## ##
#….. ##
##### ## ##
##### #
###########
###########
# #… *##
# #.## ##
# ###.## ##
# . ##
##### ## ##
##### #
###########
Original Maze Solution #1 Solution #2
When creating a string to denote a path, we indicate each directional movement from the person’s starting
position using a single character: ‘u’ (up), ‘d’ (down), ‘l’ (left), or ‘r’ (right). The characters in each string must
be separated with a single space. There should be no spaces at the beginning or end of the string. For example,
the strings representing the two paths above are as follows (and should be placed into a HashSet to be returned
by the wrapper method that calls your backtracking method):
“d l l d d r r r r”
“r r d d d”
Note that you should never produce a path that causes the person in the maze to step on an instance of the
coronavirus. Also, the person in the maze can never step on the same square more than once. For example, in the
maze shown above, it might be tempting to pass over the exit and journey around the loop in the bottom-right
corner of the maze before landing on the exit again. That would get the person from the starting position to the
exit, but that path would be invalid because it would cause the person in the maze to touch some position twice
(namely, the position with the exit): once when passing over the exit the first time, and once when the person
finishes the given path. This invalid path is denoted by the following red breadcrumb trail:
###########
# #@ *##
# # ## ##
# ### ## ##
# e ##
##### ## ##
##### #
###########
###########
# #… *##
# #.## ##
# ###.## ##
# ….##
#####.##.##
#####…. #
###########
Original Maze Invalid Path
3. Method and Class Requirements
Implement the following methods in a class named Pathogen.
public static HashSet<String findPaths(char [][] maze)
This method receives a 2D char array representing an ASCII maze and returns a HashSet of strings
representing all safe and valid paths from the starting position (‘@’) to the exit (‘e’) using the format
described above. The maze array will be non-null and non-empty and is guaranteed to be well-formed
according to the guarantees given in the problem statement above. If there are no solutions, you should
return an empty HashSet (rather than returning null). Please note that when your method returns, the
maze array must be in the same state that it was in when this method was called initially, without any
changes.
public static double difficultyRating()
Return a double on the range 1.0 (ridiculously easy) to 5.0 (insanely difficult).
public static double hoursSpent()
Return a realistic estimate (greater than zero) of the number of hours you spent on this assignment.
4. Special Requirements (Super Important!)
You must directly modify the backtracking code I’ve distributed with this assignment. In doing so, you should
not drastically re-factor the code (i.e., you should not change it to be more object-oriented or to take a radically
different backtracking approach). One of the purposes of this assignment is to force you to delve into an existing
solution and figure out how it works, and the code you submit should reflect that.
Constructing the output string for each path should be a linear operation. So, string concatenation is strictly
forbidden in this assignment. Each time you add a direction to your running path, it must be an O(1) operation.
When it comes time to add a string to your HashSet, generating that string must be an O(k) operation (where k is
the length of the string). To accomplish that, you might want to read up on Java’s StringBuilder class.
The solution you submit must use a recursive backtracking algorithm. (You cannot submit a non-backtracking
solution for this problem.) The algorithm you submit must backtrack when an obviously infeasible state is
reached, rather than continuing to add to a path that is already guaranteed to be invalid, such as the one denoted
by the red breadcrumb trail above.
Also, the algorithm you submit must be written in such a way that it generates any given path through the maze
at most once. If it generates a particular path multiple times, the HashSet can certainly help get rid of those
duplicates, but your runtime will necessarily suffer for having produced the same path repeatedly. Be sure to
avoid this.
5. Style Restrictions (Same as in Program #1) (Super Important!)
Please conform as closely as possible to the style I use while coding in class. To encourage everyone to develop
a commitment to writing consistent and readable code, the following restrictions will be strictly enforced:
 Capitalize the first letter of all class names. Use lowercase for the first letter of all method names.
 Any time you open a curly brace, that curly brace should start on a new line.
 Any time you open a new code block, indent all the code within that code block one level deeper than
you were already indenting.
 Be consistent with the amount of indentation you’re using, and be consistent in using either spaces or
tabs for indentation throughout your source file. If you’re using spaces for indentation, please use at least
two spaces for each new level of indentation, because trying to read code that uses just a single space for
each level of indentation is downright painful.
 Please avoid block-style comments: /* comment */
 Instead, please use inline-style comments: // comment
 Always include a space after the “//” in your comments: “// comment” instead of “//comment”
 The header comments introducing your source file (including the comment(s) with your name, course
number, semester, NID, and so on), should always be placed above your import statements.
 Use end-of-line comments sparingly. Comments longer than three words should always be placed above
the lines of code to which they refer. Furthermore, such comments should be indented to properly align
with the code to which they refer. For example, if line 16 of your code is indented with two tabs, and line
15 contains a comment referring to line 16, then line 15 should also be intended with two tabs.
 Please do not write excessively long lines of code. Lines must be no longer than 100 characters wide.
 Avoid excessive consecutive blank lines. In general, you should never have more than one or two
consecutive blank lines.
 Please leave a space on both sides of any binary operators you use in your code (i.e., operators that take
two operands). For example, use (a + b) – c instead of (a+b)-c. (The only place you do not have to
follow this restriction is within the square brackets used to access an array index, as in: array[i+j].)
 When defining or calling a method, do not leave a space before its opening parenthesis. For example:
use System.out.println(“Hi!”) instead of System.out.println (“Hi!”).
 Do leave a space before the opening parenthesis in an if statement or a loop. For example, use
use for (i = 0; i < n; i++) instead of for(i = 0; i < n; i++), and use if (condition) instead of if(condition)
or if( condition ).
 Use meaningful variable names that convey the purpose of your variables. (The exceptions here are
when using variables like i, j, and k for looping variables or m and n for the sizes of some inputs.)
 Do not use var to declare variables.
6. Compiling and Testing on Eustis (and the test-all.sh Script!)
Recall that your code must compile, run, and produce precisely the correct output on Eustis in order to receive
full credit. Here’s how to make that happen:
1. To compile your program with one of my test cases:
javac Pathogen.java TestCase01.java
2. To run this test case and redirect your output to a text file:
java TestCase01 myoutput01.txt
3. To compare your program’s output against the sample output file I’ve provided for this test case:
diff myoutput01.txt sample_output/TestCase01-output.txt
If the contents of myoutput01.txt and TestCase01-output.txt are exactly the same, diff won’t print anything to
the screen. It will just look like this:
[email protected]:~$ diff myoutput01.txt sample_output/TestCase01-output.txt
[email protected]:~$ _
Otherwise, if the files differ, diff will spit out some information about the lines that aren’t the same.
4. I’ve also included a script, test-all.sh, that will compile and run all test cases for you. You can run it on Eustis
by placing it in a directory with Pathogen.java and all the test case files and typing:
bash test-all.sh
Super Important: Using the test-all.sh script to test your code on Eustis is the safest, most sure-fire way to
make sure your code is working properly before submitting.
7. Grading Criteria and Miscellaneous Requirements
Important Note: When grading your programs, we will use different test cases from the ones we’ve released
with this assignment, to ensure that no one can game the system and earn credit by simply hard-coding the
expected output for the test cases we’ve released to you. You should create additional test cases of your own
in order to thoroughly test your code. In creating your own test cases, you should always ask yourself, “What
kinds of inputs could be passed to this program that don’t violate any of the input specifications, but which
haven’t already been covered in the test cases included with the assignment?”
The tentative scoring breakdown (not set in stone) for this programming assignment is:
100% Passes test cases. Your program must use backtracking in order to be eligible for credit.
A non-backtracking solution will not receive credit, even if it passes all test cases. This
portion of the grade includes tests of the difficultyRating() and hoursSpent() methods.
Important Note! Additional point deductions may be imposed for poor commenting and whitespace. Significant
point deductions may be imposed for violating the style restrictions listed above. You should also still include
your name and NID in your source code.
Please be sure to submit your .java file, not a .class file (and certainly not a .doc or .pdf file). Your best bet is to
submit your program in advance of the deadline, then download the source code from Webcourses, re-compile,
and re-test your code in order to ensure that you uploaded the correct version of your source code.
Important! Programs that do not compile on Eustis will receive zero credit. When testing your code, you
should ensure that you place Pathogen.java alone in a directory with the test case files (source files, the
sample_output directory, and the test-all.sh script), and no other files. That will help ensure that your
Pathogen.java is not relying on external support classes that you’ve written in separate .java files but won’t be
including with your program submission.
Important! You might want to remove main() and then double check that your program compiles without
it before submitting. Including a main() method can cause compilation issues if it includes references to homebrewed classes that you are not submitting with the assignment. Please remove.
Important! Your program should not print anything to the screen. Extraneous output is disruptive to the
grading process and will result in severe point deductions. Please do not print to the screen.
Important! No file writing. Please do not read or write to any files from Pathogen.java.
Important! Please do not create a java package. Articulating a package in your source code could prevent it
from compiling with our test cases, resulting in severe point deductions.
Important! Name your source file, class(es), and method(s) correctly. Minor errors in spelling and/or
capitalization could be hugely disruptive to the grading process and may result in severe point deductions.
Similarly, failing to implement a required method, or failing to make certain methods public, private, static,
and/or non-static (as required), may cause test case failure. Please double check your work!
Input specifications are a contract. We promise that we will work within the confines of the problem statement
when creating the test cases that we’ll use for grading. Please reflect carefully on the kinds of edge cases that
might cause unusual behaviors for any of the methods you’re implementing.
Test your code thoroughly. Please be sure to create your own test cases and thoroughly test your code. You’re
welcome to share test cases with each other, as long as your test cases don’t include any solution code for the
assignment itself.
Start early! Work hard! Ask questions! Good luck!