# 1305. Algorithm - Template for Subset ProblemsAlgorithm and Subsets

Introduce how the Subset template comes up.

## 1. Subset

### 1.1 Subset Question

Given a set of distinct integers, nums, return all possible subsets (the power set).

Note: The solution set must not contain duplicate subsets.

Example:

Input: nums = [1,2,3]
Output:
[
[3],
[1],
[2],
[1,2,3],
[1,3],
[2,3],
[1,2],
[]
]


It looks like a permutation or combination questions.

Todo: Recursion Tree

### 1.2 Solution for Array with Three Elements

To simplify the question, we assume there are only three elements in the ‘nums’ array. Let’s see if we can solve the problem and figure out the pattern if ‘nums’ has more elements.

public List<List<Integer>> subsetsThree(int[] nums) {
List<List<Integer>> res = new ArrayList<List<Integer>>();
if (nums == null) {
return res;
}

Arrays.sort(nums); // not necessary

// natural idea
res.add(new ArrayList<Integer>());                  // res =  [[]]
for (int i = 0; i < nums.length; i++) {             // i = 0
List<Integer> list = new ArrayList<Integer>();  // list = []
for (int j = i + 1; j < nums.length; j++) {     // j = 1
res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));             // res =  [[],[1],[1,2]]
for (int k = j + 1; k < nums.length; k++) { // k = 2
res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));         // res =  [[],[1],[1,2],[1,2,3]]
list.remove(list.size() - 1);           // list = [1,2]
}
list.remove(list.size() - 1);               // list = [1]
}
}

// the first loop is optimized, it has the same pattern as the second and third loop
res.clear();
List<Integer> list = new ArrayList<Integer>();      // list = []
res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));                     // res =  [[]]
for (int i = 0; i < nums.length; i++) {             // i = 0
res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));                 // res =  [[],[1]]
for (int j = i + 1; j < nums.length; j++) {     // j = 1
res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));             // res =  [[],[1],[1,2]]
for (int k = j + 1; k < nums.length; k++) { // k = 2
res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));         // res =  [[],[1],[1,2],[1,2,3]]
list.remove(list.size() - 1);           // list = [1,2]
}
list.remove(list.size() - 1);               // list = [1]
}
list.remove(list.size() - 1);                   //
}

return res;
}


The following points needs to be noticed for the above codes.

• This solution has two approaches, both can handle the scenario that ‘nums’ has equal or less than 3 elements.
• The first approach comes naturally. To process array data, we will definitely try to use ‘for’ loop to iterate it. And we want to get the subsets from small to large and from few to many. For each element, we need to create a new iteration. The difference is, we are moving forward. The inner loop starts from ‘index + 1’ of the outer loop. Here, we have three loops. Notice, we need to remove the last element when return to the outer loop.
• The second approach improves the first loop. The ‘list’ variable is moved out the first loop. It makes easy to see the pattern now, that is, for each loop, add the current element to list, then add this list to final ‘res’ list. And after return back to the outer loop, remove the last element in the loop.
• The inline comments assume nums=[1,2,3] and you can see the value of ‘list’ and ‘res’ in each step. The sample just shows the case when ‘i=0’.

Both approaches give the following output. Notice, the output is in sequence, based on the order of the elements in the ‘nums’ array.

// []
// [1], [1,2], [1,2,3],[1,3]
// [2], [2,3]
// [3]


### 1.3 Template

Now, we see the pattern. For each loop, we have similar codes as follows.

res.add(new ArrayList<>(list));
for (int k = j + 1; k < nums.length; k++) {
list.remove(list.size() - 1);
}


We can create a method like below. This is the template.

private void helper(int[] nums, int pos, List<Integer> list, List<List<Integer>> res) {

for (int i = pos; i < nums.length; i++) {
helper(nums, i + 1, list, res);
list.remove(list.size() - 1);
}
}


### 1.4 Final Solution

Use the template for arbitrary number of elements.

public List<List<Integer>> subsets(int[] nums) {
List<List<Integer>> res = new ArrayList<List<Integer>>();
if (nums == null) {
return res;
}

Arrays.sort(nums);// not necessary

List<Integer> list = new ArrayList<Integer>();
helper(nums, 0, list, res);
return res;
}

private void helper(int[] nums, int pos, List<Integer> list, List<List<Integer>> res) {

for (int i = pos; i < nums.length; i++) {
helper(nums, i + 1, list, res);
list.remove(list.size() - 1);
}
}

• Notice, the sort for ‘nums’ array is not required, as all elements of it are unique.

## 2. Similar Question

### 2.1 Subset II

What if the given ‘nums’ array contains duplicated elements?

Example:

Input: [1,2,2]
Output:
[
[2],
[1],
[1,2,2],
[2,2],
[1,2],
[]
]


### 2.2 Analysis

If we use the solution for subset, we will get the following outputs.

// []
// [1], [1,2], [1,2,2], [1,2]
// [2], [2,2]
// [2]


However, the expected output should not contain any duplicated elements.

// []
// [1], [1,2], [1,2,2]
// [2], [2,2]


We need to remove ‘[1,2]’ and the last ‘[2]’. At the same level iteration, we should check if duplicated value found. Suppose, we are using the previous ‘subsetsThree()’ method, then ‘[1,2]’ is in the second loop(i = 0; k = 2), ‘[2]’ is in the first loop (i = 2).

### 2.3 Solution

Just check whether the current element has the same value with the previous one before adding it to the list. Notice, this approach works only if the ‘nums’ array is sorted.

public List<List<Integer>> subsetsWithDup(int[] nums) {
List<List<Integer>> res = new ArrayList<List<Integer>>();
if (nums == null) {
return res;
}

Arrays.sort(nums); // must sort

List<Integer> list = new ArrayList<Integer>();
helper(nums, 0, list, res);
return res;
}
private void helper(int[] nums, int pos, List<Integer> list, List<List<Integer>> res) {

for (int i = pos; i < nums.length; i++) {
if (i > pos && nums[i] == nums[i-1]) {
continue;
}
helper(nums, i + 1, list, res);
list.remove(list.size() - 1);
}
}