Leetcode – Goat Latin Solution in Python

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String manipulation is a frequent theme in programming puzzles. Leetcode’s “Goat Latin” problem is a light-hearted, yet instructive challenge that underscores the importance of understanding string operations and transformations. This article will not only guide you through the problem but also demonstrate its solution in Python.

Table of Contents

  1. Problem Statement
  2. Understanding the Problem
  3. Approaching the Solution
  4. Python Implementation
  5. Analyzing the Code
  6. Optimizations and Variations
  7. Conclusion

1. Problem Statement

Given a sentence in the form of a string, convert it to its Goat Latin version. The rules of Goat Latin are:

  • If a word begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, or u), append “ma” to the end of the word. Example: “apple” becomes “applema”.
  • If a word begins with a consonant, remove the first letter, append it to the end of the word, then add “ma”. Example: “goat” becomes “oatgma”.
  • Add a letter ‘a’ to the end of each word, and incrementally increase the number of ‘a’s added based on the word’s position in the sentence. The first word gets ‘a’, the second word gets ‘aa’, and so on.

2. Understanding the Problem

The task involves a series of string operations:

  1. Identifying the beginning character of a word.
  2. Applying transformations based on whether the character is a vowel or a consonant.
  3. Appending the appropriate number of ‘a’s.

3. Approaching the Solution

A stepwise approach to the problem:

  1. Tokenization: Split the given sentence into words.
  2. Word Transformation: For each word:
    • Check if it starts with a vowel or a consonant.
    • Apply the corresponding transformation.
    • Add ‘ma’ and the required number of ‘a’s.
  3. Reconstruction: Join the transformed words back into a sentence.

4. Python Implementation

Let’s transform our approach into a functional Python solution:

def toGoatLatin(S):
    vowels = set("aeiouAEIOU")
    words = S.split()

    for i in range(len(words)):
        # If word starts with a vowel
        if words[i][0] in vowels:
            words[i] += 'ma'
        # If word starts with a consonant
            words[i] = words[i][1:] + words[i][0] + 'ma'
        # Append 'a's based on position
        words[i] += 'a' * (i + 1)

    return ' '.join(words)

5. Analyzing the Code

  • The set vowels provides a constant-time lookup for vowels.
  • We split the input string S into a list of words.
  • For each word in the list, we perform the transformations described in the approach section.
  • Finally, we join the transformed words back together into a single string, which represents the Goat Latin version of the input sentence.

6. Optimizations and Variations

  1. Using List Comprehension: The transformation logic can be condensed into a list comprehension for a more Pythonic solution, although this might reduce readability for those unfamiliar with the syntax.
  2. Extending Vowel/Consonant Logic: If, for instance, ‘y’ should sometimes be treated as a vowel, the logic can be adjusted accordingly.
  3. Real-world Applications: While Goat Latin itself is fictional, understanding such string manipulations can be valuable, especially when dealing with data transformations, text processing, or linguistic algorithms.

7. Conclusion

The “Goat Latin” problem serves as a fun exercise in string manipulation. It underscores the need to understand fundamental operations, such as splitting strings, iterating through lists, and joining strings. While the problem is playful, the skills and techniques it reinforces are applicable to real-world scenarios. With Python’s robust string manipulation capabilities, challenges like these become both instructive and enjoyable.

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