# Operation Order

## Task: Solve for X where...

``````X = the sum of each evaluated expression
``````

### Example input

``````1 + (2 * 3) + (4 * (5 + 6))
``````

It represents:

• A math equation
• Where sub-equations inside parentheses are evaluated first when encountered
• Evaluation proceeds left-to-right, unlike normal order of mathematical operations

### Computer science skills that seem relevant include:

• Recursion
• Regular expressions
• Mapping and Reducing (multi-dimensional?) arrays
• String traversal, maybe?

### Analyzing my puzzle input

• Numbers are limited to digits 2-9 - so, single-character, non-zero, positive digits only
• No occurrences of ((( or ))), though that doesn't rule out the existence of a 3-level deep equation somewhere in the middle of a 2-level deep equation
• Equations that span between 2 and ~50 operands

## Part 1

1. Trying my hardest to think algorithmically
2. Trying to analyze another solver's algorithm

### Trying my hardest to think algorithmically

When I analyze this example diagram...

``````1 + (2 * 3) + (4 * (5 + 6))
1 +    6    + (4 * (5 + 6))
7      + (4 * (5 + 6))
7      + (4 *   11   )
7      +     44
51
``````

• Using recursion to evaluate each of the equations inside the parentheses
• Using regular expressions to identify each parenthesis-wrapped clause
• Using a hellishly-overcomplicated series of if..else clauses to traverse each equation string, character by character, to arrive at a final number

Sadly, I struggle to map out or visualize how I would attack this puzzle using any of these three tactics.

### Trying to analyze another solver's algorithm

JavaScript solver NullDev used two regular expressions as part of their solution.

``````Regex 1:
/\(([^()]+)\)/

Regex 2:
/(\d+) ([+*]) (\d+)/
``````

I immediately understood Regex 2:

• Match one or more digits
• Then a single space
• Then either `+` or `*` characters
• Then a single space
• Then one or more digits

It matches these strings:
`3 * 2` or `5 + 9`

I eventually understood Regex 1:

• Match an open parenthesis (
• Match one or more non-parentheses characters
• Match a closing parenthesis )

It matches this string:
`(7 * 4)`

And thanks to Regexr.com I saw that it only matches the inner set in this string:
`(5 + (3 * 4))`

It then seems that the core algorithm does the following:

``````As long as the equation string has at least one more space character:
Reassign to equation the result of the following test:
Does the equation have any more parentheses?
Replace the entire match when testing for Regex 1 with the solution of the first capture group when testing for Regex 1
If the equation doesn't have any more parentheses
Replace the entire match when testing for Regex 2 with the result of the following test:
Does the second matched capture group contain only a + character?
Return the sum of the number-coerced first and third matched capture groups
Does the second matched capture group contain only a * character?
Return the product of the number-coerced first and third matched capture groups
Return the resulting number
``````

## Quitting early with my head only slightly raised

• I retreat from this puzzle satisfied only in that I understood both Regexes in NullDev's solution.
• I'm bummed that I continue to struggle solving puzzles that rely on Regex, recursion or indeterminate-length substring manipulation.
• But I recognize that this puzzle is beyond my grasp.
• At least my recent Regex practice is proving helpful!