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Harsh Rajpal
Harsh Rajpal

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17. Letter Combinations of a Phone Number

Problem Statement:

Given a string containing digits from 2-9 inclusive, return all possible letter combinations that the number could represent. Return the answer in any order.

A mapping of digits to letters (just like on the telephone buttons) is given below. Note that 1 does not map to any letters.

Example 1:
Input: digits = "23"
Output: ["ad","ae","af","bd","be","bf","cd","ce","cf"]

Example 2:
Input: digits = ""
Output: []

Example 3:
Input: digits = "2"
Output: ["a","b","c"]


  • 0 <= digits.length <= 4
  • digits[i] is a digit in the range ['2', '9'].



  1. Use a queue to store the current combination of letters.
  2. For each digit in the input string, pop the current combination from the queue, and append each letter to the combination.
  3. Push the new combination to the queue.
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until all digits are processed.


public class Solution {
    final char[][] L = { {}, {}, { 'a', 'b', 'c' }, { 'd', 'e', 'f' }, { 'g', 'h', 'i' }, { 'j', 'k', 'l' },
            { 'm', 'n', 'o' }, { 'p', 'q', 'r', 's' }, { 't', 'u', 'v' }, { 'w', 'x', 'y', 'z' } };

    public List<String> letterCombinations(String D) {
        int len = D.length();
        List<String> ans = new ArrayList<>();
        if (len == 0)
            return ans;
        bfs(0, len, new StringBuilder(), ans, D);
        return ans;

    public void bfs(int pos, int len, StringBuilder sb, List<String> ans, String D) {
        if (pos == len)
        else {
            char[] letters = L[Character.getNumericValue(D.charAt(pos))];
            for (int i = 0; i < letters.length; i++)
                bfs(pos + 1, len, new StringBuilder(sb).append(letters[i]), ans, D);
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Time Complexity:
O(3^N * 4^M), where N is the number of digits in the input that maps to 3 letters (e.g. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8), and M is the number of digits in the input that maps to 4 letters (e.g. 7, 9), and N+M is the total number digits in the input.

Space Complexity:
O(3^N * 4^M), since one has to keep 3^N * 4^M solutions.

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