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Hmmm I have never answered on Quora before. When I saw IK in the question I jumped up as though like reflex to answer this question.
I was one of the cohorts in IK last year. Like any other cohort, my intent was to be able to find some kind of a secret pill there to “magically” ace through the “whiteboard” interviews, land in a You-name-it top-tier company, with a handsome sal and live happily ever after. A fairy tale indeed.Well, I was in for a surprise.
Rewinding back.. A telephonic interview with Amazon..
Interviewer: << after all the initial nice talks>> Given a root node of a linked list and an int k , can you reverse every k elements in the list.
[[ I was elated, exactly the same question I had studied in Narasimha Karumanchi book. What a luck! Then.. I keep my pen on paper, drew few nodes.. then… then what??…!@###$
Me:<< buying time>> let me paraphrase the question for you….
3 minutes later
Interviewer: We have not heard from you. Are you still there?
Me: <<Hiding my struggle>> Yes yes, I am drawing a picture in my notebook to manipulate the pointers ( Sadly( Or fortunately?), this was when all the coding interview platforms were not available).
10 minutes into the interview
Interviewer: If you could think aloud , it can help us understand your thought process
Me: Sure sure.. what I am thinking is …
[[ Damn! I am not thinking anything to think “aloud”..Then I pull up courage to spit out words like “node”,”next”,”swap” etc which I myself did not understand, let alone explaining it to the interviewer.
25 minutes passed on a virtually muted phone call
Interviewer: Okay, looks like we lost you. May be lets look for sometime in future
Fast Forward to a recent past- telephonic with Facebook
Interviewer: Given that letters are encoded like 1-A 2-B..Z-26 , Given a number , can you give the number of possible encodings possible? Given 123, it can be abc or lc,aw.
Me:<< Again paraphrasing the question, this time with a better understanding- Enhanced the example to 5 digit number>>
Interviewer:<<answered in approval>> Sounds good.
Me: I think we can look at it recursively, if I can take the input as a string, I could either have a substring of size 1 or 2, If I take substring of 1, then I know that the number of encodings possible is 1+ number of encodings possible from rest of the string) If I take a substring of size 2, the number of encodings is 1+ number of encodings possible from rest of the string.. Sum of these two gives me the total number of encodings possible
And I typed out a quick mathematical representation.
<<25 min into the interview>>
I have a working recursive solution
I have explained a small recursion tree and identified repeating sub problems and memoized the results of the past
<<40 min>> Interviewer: If we have to do bottom up…
Me: Yes, we can build the cache bottom up and eliminate the recursion
Interviewer: Can we optimize on memory?
Me:<<Really thinking this time>> As the solution depends only on the outcome of n-1 and n-2, we can do the same in constant space
Interviewer: Thats exactly what i was looking for.
And I got a call onsite!
You might think, I am going to rave about IK for the transformation above. I actually want to. But let me keep it as objective as I can. I did not come out the polished piece just by attending the 2 month bootcamp in IK. After the bootcamp, I had to struggle, I had a lot of “mind freezes”, embarrassments and sometimes questioned my self-worth. I kept practicing, one easy problem a day, to one medium problem , to one hard problem.. and I am still practicing… Irrespective of where we get the knowledge from, it is our practice that can move us forward.
I have still not switched companies. So what did I gain out of IK?
I realize now, I had paid thinking I will get a “instant weight loss”, but I got myself a muscle trainer to get fit than to lose weight, the right way and lasting!
Hope you found this useful.