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Posted on • Originally published at rivea0.github.io

# LeetCode Meditations: Number of Islands

Given an m x n 2D binary grid grid which represents a map of '1's (land) and '0's (water), return the number of islands.

An island is surrounded by water and is formed by connecting adjacent lands horizontally or vertically. You may assume all four edges of the grid are all surrounded by water.

For example:

Input: grid = [
['1', '1', '1', '1', '0'],
['1', '1', '0', '1', '0'],
['1', '1', '0', '0', '0'],
['0', '0', '0', '0', '0'],
]

Output: 1


Or:

Input: grid = [
['1', '1', '0', '0', '0'],
['1', '1', '0', '0', '0'],
['0', '0', '1', '0', '0'],
['0', '0', '0', '1', '1'],
]

Output: 3


### With depth-first search

This one is slightly in the spirit of the Word Search problems that we've looked at before.

We need to gather all the cells with the value '1' as "islands" and count them up. One simple idea is that starting from a cell with the value '1', we can run a depth-first search to see how many '1'-valued cells are nearby. Once we reach a boundary, we can update our count of islands and return from our DFS function.

Before we start doing that, the very first thing to do is to check if we have a grid at all. In that case, we wouldn't have any "islands," so we can return 0:

if (!grid.length) {
return 0;
}


We're going to loop over all the cells, so, first we can keep the length of the rows and columns in variables rowsLength and colsLength:

const rowsLength = grid.length;
const colsLength = grid[0].length;


Then, we can initialize a set called visited to mark the cells as "visited" as we go. We need to get the row and column numbers inside this set (for example, i and j for the cell grid[i][j]), but it's a bit tricky when it comes to JavaScript/TypeScript. The reason is that since arrays are also objects, checking for the existence of an array in a set will be meaningless, as the array we're comparing will be a different object in memory. For example, we can do something like this:

let a = [1, 2];
let aSet = new Set();
// -> Set(1) { [ 1, 2 ] }


But, checking for the existence of what seems to be the "same" array returns false:

aSet.has([1, 2]);
// -> false


Note that in Python, for example, tuples can be used for that quite easily:

>>> n = (1, 2)
>>> n_set = set()
>>> n_set
{(1, 2)}
>>> (1, 2) in n_set
True


However, things are a bit different in JavaScript/TypeScript land. For more information, see this Stack Overflow thread.

For that reason, we can use strings to add the coordinate of a cell into our visited set. We'll first initialize it as empty for now:

const visited: Set<string> = new Set();


We'll also keep an islandCount variable to return the number of islands at the end:

let islandCount = 0;


Now we can simply go through each cell; if it's marked as '1' and we haven't visited it yet, we can run dfs from that cell onwards, and update our islandCount:

for (let i = 0; i < rowsLength; i++) {
for (let j = 0; j < colsLength; j++) {
if (grid[i][j] === '1' && !visited.has(${i},${j})) {
dfs(i, j);
islandCount++;
}
}
}


But, how can we write the dfs function? First, perhaps, by taking a deep breath.

Let's think about the base case for our dfs function.

If the cell we're looking at is out of bounds or it's marked as '0', or we have already visited it, we can simply return because we don't want to look further:

if (outOfBounds(currentRow, currentCol) ||
grid[currentRow][currentCol] === '0' ||
visited.has(${currentRow},${currentCol})) {
return;
}


Otherwise, we'll mark that cell as visited first:

visited.add(${currentRow},${currentCol});


Then, for each direction from that cell, we'll run dfs itself:

// up, down, left, right
const coords = [[-1, 0], [1, 0], [0, -1], [0, 1]];
for (const [r, c] of coords) {
let [rowToGo, colToGo] = [currentRow + r, currentCol + c];
dfs(rowToGo, colToGo);
}


And, that's about it. This is what dfs looks like now:

function dfs(currentRow: number, currentCol: number) {
if (outOfBounds(currentRow, currentCol) ||
grid[currentRow][currentCol] === '0' ||
visited.has(${currentRow},${currentCol})) {
return;
}

visited.add(${currentRow},${currentCol});

// up, down, left, right
const coords = [[-1, 0], [1, 0], [0, -1], [0, 1]];
for (const [r, c] of coords) {
let [rowToGo, colToGo] = [currentRow + r, currentCol + c];
dfs(rowToGo, colToGo);
}
}


The final solution looks like this:

function numIslands(grid: string[][]): number {
if (!grid.length) {
return 0;
}

const rowsLength = grid.length;
const colsLength = grid[0].length;
const visited: Set<string> = new Set();
let islandCount = 0;

function outOfBounds(r: number, c: number) {
return r < 0 || c < 0 || r >= rowsLength || c >= colsLength;
}

function dfs(currentRow: number, currentCol: number) {
if (outOfBounds(currentRow, currentCol) ||
grid[currentRow][currentCol] === '0' ||
visited.has(${currentRow},${currentCol})) {
return;
}

visited.add(${currentRow},${currentCol});

// up, down, left, right
const coords = [[-1, 0], [1, 0], [0, -1], [0, 1]];
for (const [r, c] of coords) {
let [rowToGo, colToGo] = [currentRow + r, currentCol + c];
dfs(rowToGo, colToGo);
}
}

for (let i = 0; i < rowsLength; i++) {
for (let j = 0; j < colsLength; j++) {
if (grid[i][j] === '1' && !visited.has(${i},${j})) {
dfs(i, j);
islandCount++;
}
}
}

return islandCount;
}


#### Time and space complexity

The time complexity for this solution will be $O(n * m)$ where $n$ is the number of rows and $m$ is the number of columns, as we're visiting each cell with a nested loop. Since we're marking the cells as visited as we go, the dfs function will have a lesser contribution to the time complexity than looping over the whole grid.

The space complexity is, I think, $O(n * m)$ where $n$ is the number of rows and $m$ is the number of columns, as in the worst case the recursion stack can grow proportionately to the size of the grid.

There is also a breadth-first solution as shown by NeetCode that looks very similar to what we did with the depth-first search version.

As usual with BFS, we'll keep a queue to add the row and column indices of neighboring cells:

let queue: [number, number][] = [];

Note
Here, we're using TypeScript's tuple type to specify that our queue will be an array of arrays, each of which consists of two numbers.

Then, we'll immediately mark the cell as visited and add it to queue:

visited.add(${currentRow},${currentCol});
queue.push([currentRow, currentCol]);


While we still have neighboring cells to look at (queue.length > 0), we can add the ones we want to visit to our queue, and mark them as visited. It's very similar to what we did with dfs:

while (queue.length > 0) {
let [currentRow, currentCol] = queue.shift() as [number, number];

// up, down, left, right
const coords = [[-1, 0], [1, 0], [0, -1], [0, 1]];

for (const [r, c] of coords) {
let [rowToGo, colToGo] = [currentRow + r, currentCol + c];
if (!outOfBounds(rowToGo, colToGo) &&
grid[rowToGo][colToGo] === '1' &&
!visited.has(${rowToGo},${colToGo})
) {
queue.push([rowToGo, colToGo]);
visited.add(${rowToGo},${colToGo});
}
}
}



That's pretty much it for the bfs function:

function bfs(currentRow: number, currentCol: number) {
let queue: [number, number][] = [];
visited.add(${currentRow},${currentCol});
queue.push([currentRow, currentCol]);

while (queue.length > 0) {
let [currentRow, currentCol] = queue.shift() as [number, number];

// up, down, left, right
const coords = [[-1, 0], [1, 0], [0, -1], [0, 1]];

for (const [r, c] of coords) {
let [rowToGo, colToGo] = [currentRow + r, currentCol + c];
if (!outOfBounds(rowToGo, colToGo) &&
grid[rowToGo][colToGo] === '1' &&
!visited.has(${rowToGo},${colToGo})
) {
queue.push([rowToGo, colToGo]);
visited.add(${rowToGo},${colToGo});
}
}
}
}


And, the final version looks like this:

function numIslands(grid: string[][]): number {
if (!grid.length) {
return 0;
}

const rowsLength = grid.length;
const colsLength = grid[0].length;
const visited: Set<string> = new Set();
let islandCount = 0;

function outOfBounds(r: number, c: number) {
return r < 0 || c < 0 || r >= rowsLength || c >= colsLength;
}

function bfs(currentRow: number, currentCol: number) {
let queue: [number, number][] = [];
visited.add(${currentRow},${currentCol});
queue.push([currentRow, currentCol]);

while (queue.length > 0) {
let [currentRow, currentCol] = queue.shift() as [number, number];

// up, down, left, right
const coords = [[-1, 0], [1, 0], [0, -1], [0, 1]];

for (const [r, c] of coords) {
let [rowToGo, colToGo] = [currentRow + r, currentCol + c];
if (!outOfBounds(rowToGo, colToGo) &&
grid[rowToGo][colToGo] === '1' &&
!visited.has(${rowToGo},${colToGo})
) {
queue.push([rowToGo, colToGo]);
visited.add(${rowToGo},${colToGo});
}
}
}
}

for (let i = 0; i < rowsLength; i++) {
for (let j = 0; j < colsLength; j++) {
if (grid[i][j] === '1' && !visited.has(${i},${j})) {
bfs(i, j);
islandCount++;
}
}
}

return islandCount;
}


#### Time and space complexity

The time complexity is again $O(n * m)$ for this version, where $n$ is the number of rows and $m$ is the number of columns, as we go through each cell using a nested for loop. As the length of queue doesn't substantially grow, I think the bfs function inside won't have a huge influence on the time complexity.

The space complexity can also be $O(n * m)$ as in the worst case we have all the cells as '1' and have to store all of them in visited.

Next up is the second problem in this chapter, Clone Graph. Until then, happy coding.