Problem Statement:
You are given two strings word1
and word2
. Merge the strings by adding letters in alternating order, starting with word1
. If a string is longer than the other, append the additional letters onto the end of the merged string.
Example 1:
 Input:
word1 = "abc"
,word2 = "pqr"
 Output:
"apbqcr"
 Explanation: The merged string will be merged as so:
 word1:
a b c
 word2:
p q r
 merged:
a p b q c r
 word1:
Example 2:
 Input:
word1 = "ab"
,word2 = "pqrs"
 Output:
"apbqrs"
 Explanation: Notice that as
word2
is longer,"rs"
is appended to the end. word1:
a b
 word2:
p q r s
 merged:
a p b q r s
 word1:
Example 3:
 Input:
word1 = "abcd"
,word2 = "pq"
 Output:
"apbqcd"
 Explanation: Notice that as
word1
is longer,"cd"
is appended to the end. word1:
a b c d
 word2:
p q
 merged:
a p b q c d
 word1:
Constraints:
1 <= word1.length, word2.length <= 100

word1
andword2
consist of lowercase English letters.
Understanding the Problem:
To solve this problem, we need to merge two strings by alternately adding characters from each string. If one string is longer, the remaining characters of the longer string are appended to the end of the merged string.
Initial Thought Process:
A simple approach involves iterating through both strings simultaneously, adding characters from each to the merged string. If one string runs out of characters, append the rest of the other string to the merged result.
Basic Solution:
Code:
function mergeStringsAlternately(word1: string, word2: string): string {
let mergedString = "";
let maxLength = Math.max(word1.length, word2.length);
for (let i = 0; i < maxLength; i++) {
if (i < word1.length) {
mergedString += word1[i];
}
if (i < word2.length) {
mergedString += word2[i];
}
}
return mergedString;
}
Time Complexity Analysis:

Time Complexity: O(n), where n is the length of the longer string between
word1
andword2
.  Space Complexity: O(n), where n is the length of the resulting merged string.
Limitations:
The basic solution is efficient given the problem constraints. It iterates through both strings once, making it quite optimal for this problem size.
Optimized Solution:
Although the basic solution is already efficient, we can make it slightly more optimized in terms of code readability and handling the edge cases more succinctly by using a while loop.
Code:
function mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized(word1: string, word2: string): string {
let mergedString = "";
let i = 0, j = 0;
while (i < word1.length  j < word2.length) {
if (i < word1.length) {
mergedString += word1[i++];
}
if (j < word2.length) {
mergedString += word2[j++];
}
}
return mergedString;
}
Time Complexity Analysis:

Time Complexity: O(n), where n is the length of the longer string between
word1
andword2
.  Space Complexity: O(n), where n is the length of the resulting merged string.
Improvements Over Basic Solution:
 The optimized solution handles edge cases within the loop, making the code cleaner.
 Incrementing indices inside the loop makes the code easier to follow.
Edge Cases and Testing:
Edge Cases:

word1
is empty. 
word2
is empty. 
word1
andword2
are the same length. 
word1
is longer thanword2
. 
word2
is longer thanword1
.
Test Cases:
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("abc", "pqr")); // "apbqcr"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("ab", "pqrs")); // "apbqrs"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("abcd", "pq")); // "apbqcd"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("", "xyz")); // "xyz"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("hello", "")); // "hello"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("hi", "there")); // "htiheere"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternately("a", "b")); // "ab"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("abc", "pqr")); // "apbqcr"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("ab", "pqrs")); // "apbqrs"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("abcd", "pq")); // "apbqcd"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("", "xyz")); // "xyz"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("hello", "")); // "hello"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("hi", "there")); // "htiheere"
console.log(mergeStringsAlternatelyOptimized("a", "b")); // "ab"
General ProblemSolving Strategies:
 Understand the Problem: Carefully read the problem statement to understand what is required. Break down the problem into smaller components.
 Identify Patterns: Look for patterns in the problem that can simplify the solution. For example, in this problem, the alternating pattern is key.
 Consider Edge Cases: Think about different scenarios that might affect the solution, such as one string being empty or strings of different lengths.
 Start Simple: Begin with a basic solution that works, even if it's not the most efficient. This helps to ensure you understand the problem.
 Optimize: Once a basic solution is in place, look for ways to optimize it. This could involve reducing time complexity or making the code cleaner and more readable.
 Test Thoroughly: Test your solution with various cases, including edge cases. Ensure that the solution handles all possible inputs correctly.
Identifying Similar Problems:

Interleaving Strings:
 Problems where two strings or arrays need to be interleaved in a specific pattern.
 Example: Merging two sorted arrays into one sorted array.

Zigzag Conversion:
 Problems where characters or elements need to be placed in a zigzag or specific pattern.
 Example: Converting a string into a zigzag pattern and reading it row by row.

String Weaving:
 Problems involving weaving characters from multiple strings or lists together.
 Example: Combining multiple DNA sequences into one sequence by alternating nucleotides.

Merging Lists:
 Problems involving merging two or more lists based on specific rules.
 Example: Merging multiple sorted linked lists into one sorted linked list.
Conclusion:
 The problem of merging two strings alternately can be efficiently solved with a straightforward approach.
 Understanding the problem and breaking it down into manageable parts is crucial.
 Testing with various edge cases ensures robustness.
 Recognizing patterns in problems can help apply similar solutions to other challenges.
By practicing such problems and strategies, you can improve your problemsolving skills and be better prepared for various coding challenges.
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