Minimize the length of the string by removing suffixes and prefixes of the same characters

Minimize the length of the string by removing suffixes and prefixes of the same characters: Suppose a string has a length of N developed only characters ‘a’‘b’, and ‘c’, then the task is to minimize the length of the given string, by doing the following operations at once:

  • First, divide the given string into two non-empty substrings. Secondly, append the left substring to the end of the right substring.
  • So, when appending if the suffix of the right substring and prefix of the left substring contains the same character, then remove those characters from the suffix and prefix of the right substring and left substrings respectively. Repeat this step until no substrings are non-removable.

Now take an example:

Input: S = “aabcccabbaOutput: 4

Divide the given string S in two parts as “aabcc” and “cabba”. Below are the operations performed on the above two substrings:

Remove the prefixes and suffixes of the same characters, i.e. ‘a’. The string becomes “bcc” and “cabb”.
Remove the suffixes and prefixes of the same characters, i.e. ‘b’. The string becomes “cc” and “ca”.
Now, after concatenating the right and left substrings, the string obtained is “cacc”, which is of the shortest length, i.e. 4.

Input: S = “aacbccaOutput: 1

The Algorithm is:

The problem is going to be solved by using Two Pointers by finding similar characters present in the suffix of the string and prefix of the string.

The Following steps to use to solve the Problem:

  • Initialize two variables, say i as 0 and j as (N – 1).
  • Iterate a loop until i < j and the characters S[i] and S[j] are the same, and perform the following steps:
    • Initialize a variable, say with S[i], and shift pointer i towards the right while i is at most j and d = S[i].
    • Shift pointer j towards the left until i is at most j and d = S[j].
  • After completing the above steps, the value of (j – i + 1) is the minimum possible length of the string.

Below is the implementation of the above algorithm:

// Java program for the above approach

import java.lang.*;
import java.util.*;

class GFG {

	// Function to find the minimum length
	// of the string after removing the same
	// characters from the end and front of the
	// two strings after dividing into 2 substrings
	static int minLength(String s)
		// Initialize two pointers
		int i = 0, j = s.length() - 1;

		// Traverse the string S
		for (; i < j
			&& s.charAt(i) == s.charAt(j);) {

			// Current char on left pointer
			char d = s.charAt(i);

			// Shift i towards right
			while (i <= j
				&& s.charAt(i) == d)

			// Shift j towards left
			while (i <= j
				&& s.charAt(j) == d)

		// Return the minimum possible
		// length of string
		return j - i + 1;

	// Driver Code
	public static void main(String[] args)
		String S = "aacbcca";

Time Complexity: O(N)
Auxiliary Space: O(N)

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Lingaraj Senapati
Hey There! I am Lingaraj Senapati, the Co-founder of My skills are Freelance, Web Developer & Designer, Corporate Trainer, Digital Marketer & Youtuber.
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