# Change the data

Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

Doctor: "So, don't do that."

We've been spending time on State Space Search. It's a great topic. We deal with or at least introduce:

• Recursion
• Blind search
• Heuristic search
• foreshadowing things like A* and Dijkstra's algorithm.

and more. Today, however. I want to talk about something else.

We started by developing a maze solver. It reads a text file representing the maze and then proceeds to find an exit. One version of the source code can be found here.

It's really cool to see how such a short program, about 10 lines of work code, can solve such an open sounding problem. From there we talk about state spaces, graphs, etc. We then moved on to the Knight's tour. By viewing it as a state space problem we can look at it just like the maze.

We represented a state as a board with the knight's current position and where it's been. An easy way to do this is to use an array of ints. So we have an empty 5x5 board:

```0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
```

Or a board after a few moves:

```1 0 0 0 0
4 0 2 0 0
0 0 5 0 0
0 3 0 0 6
0 0 0 0 0
```

The kids saw three base cases:

1. When our count got up to n^2 (and in fact, we're done)
2. When we land on a non-zero space (when we just return or backtrack)
3. When we try to move off the board, for an index out of bounds error.

I wanted to look at that third one. We talked for a bit about using an if or a try/catch but I pointed out that I didn't like either. Looking at our maze code, we never checked bounds there. Why not. Well it turns out that our maze had wall all around. It was stored in a 2D array but the entire outer edge was wall. Why not do the same for the chess board:

```-1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1
-1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1
-1 -1  0  0  0  0  0 -1 -1
-1 -1  0  0  0  0  0 -1 -1
-1 -1  0  0  0  0  0 -1 -1
-1 -1  0  0  0  0  0 -1 -1
-1 -1  0  0  0  0  0 -1 -1
-1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1
-1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1
```

Now, as long as we start on the board, if the Knight jumps off the edge, it will end on a -1 square and backtrack. By modifying our data structure and data to contain a border, we've eliminated the special case of index out of bounds.

I always like doing that.

##### Some Links

Source code for Knight's tour

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