# A Teacher looks at Advent of Code 2016 #1

I recently posted about Advent of Code - a series of programming problems relseased one a day. While they vary in terms of level of difficulty, a number of them make nice problems for introductory to mid level programming classes.

I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on a few of them starting with the first problem from this years competition.

Take a minute to read it over.

At first glance, it might seem to a young programmer that this problem requires a two dimensional array - all about (x,y) coordinates but then there's a problem - there are no limits on coordinates and we can't make an unlimited size array.

After thinking a bit, hopefully the programmer realizes that all they
need to do is keep track of the how the ** (x,y)** location changes over
time. In the solution below, we start at

**and count the steps as we update two variables**

**(0,0)****and**

**x****.**

**y**
When we finish processing the moves, we have our current location in
** (x,y)** and we have the number of steps taken to get there.

The solution below hsa a couple of niceties that a beginning programmer might not know or use (and I'm not arguing that what's written is superior in any way, it's just what I ended up writing).

I make use of tuple destructuring:

```
x,y = (0,0)
```

which assigns ** x** to the first item in the tuple and

**the second. I used that a number of times**

**y**
I also use a list I call ** dirs** to hold dx and dy values for the
four direcitons:

```
dirs=[(0,1),(1,0),(0,-1),(-1,0)]
```

This made it easier to to update the location based on the 4 directions. I could also have just used if statements.

Here's all the code:

```
x,y = (0,0) # assume our starting location is 0,0
# we start with d=0 -> facing north
# as we turn left or right, we can just increment or decrement d
# and dirs[d] will give us the appropriate dx and dy to update
# our locatoin for the next step
dirs=[(0,1),(1,0),(0,-1),(-1,0)]
d=0
# This is only needed for part 2 - We track visited locations
# by adding them to the dictionary. If we try to add a location
# that's already been visited we know that we've found our final
# location
# locs={} # uncomment this line for part 2
totalsteps=0
for i in l:
# the first char in i is the direction to turn in (L or R)
# the rest represents the number of steps.
dir=i[0]
steps=int(i[1:])
if dir=="L":
d = (d+1)%4
else:
d = (d-1)%4
(dx,dy) = dirs[d]
for i in range(steps):
(x,y) = (x + dx, y + dy)
totalsteps=totalsteps+1
# Uncomment this block for part 2
# each time we have a new location, see if it's already in
# locs, if it isn't, add it.
# if it is, we're visiting somewhere twice so we're done.
#if ((x,y) not in locs):
# locs[(x,y)]=1
#else:
# print((x,y))
# print(abs(x)+abs(y)) # the answer
# sys.exit(0)
# break
print(x,y)
print(abs(x)+abs(y)) # the answer
```

Overall, a nice little problem for beginning and intermediate students.