RogerBW's Blog

Perl Weekly Challenge 36: VINs and Knapsacks 05 December 2019

I’ve been doing the Perl Weekly Challenges. Last week's was about validating VINs and solving the knapsack problem.

For the VINs, there's a set length, an allowed character set, and an optional check digit, all laid out in Wikipedia.

Each allowed character (alphanumeric less I, O and Q) has a defined value for checksumming, and each place in the code has a weight, so we build those tables first.

my %cvalue;
map {$cvalue{$_}=$_} (0..9);
my $base=ord('A');
foreach my $char ('A'..'H','J'..'N','P','R') {
foreach my $char ('S'..'Z') {
my $valid=join('',keys %cvalue);

my @weight=reverse (2..9,0,10,2..8);

Do the basic tests on each VIN candidate before invoking the checksum algorithm.

foreach my $vin (@ARGV) {
  unless (length($vin)==17) {
    print "$vin is not 17 characters\n";
  unless ($vin =~ /^[$valid]*$/) {
    print "$vin contains invalid characters\n";

The checksum just multiplies each digit by its weight, then takes the total modulo 11, just like ISBNs. But unlike ISBNs it's not compulsory; many car-makers outside North America don't bother to calculate it.

  my $check=0;
  foreach my $ix (0..16) {
  if ($check==10) {
  if (substr($vin,8,1) ne $check) {
    print "$vin does not pass check-digit verification (may be valid non-NA)\n";
  print "$vin is valid.\n";

This is harder work in Perl6 because of the way lists are built up:

for (slip('A'..'H'),slip('J'..'N'),'P','R') -> $char {

and because of the way regexps are interpolated:

my $valid='^<[' ~ join('',keys %cvalue) ~ ']>*$';


unless ($vin ~~ /<$valid>/) {

but is otherwise basically the same.

The other half of the challenge was to solve a 0-1 knapsack problem. I decided not to get cunning, and simply worked up an O(2^N) solution.

my %box=(
  R => {w => 1, v => 1},
  B => {w => 1, v => 2},
  G => {w => 2, v => 2},
  Y => {w => 12, v => 4},
  P => {w => 4, v => 10},

my @k=keys %box;
my @v=map {2**$_} (0..$#k);
my $maxw=15;
my $maxb=scalar @k;

This option is set for the constrained version ("you may take no more than N boxes").

# $maxb=3;

my $bestv=0;
my $bestw=0;
my $bestid=0;

We generate each possible combination of boxes and calculate its weight and value, abandoning it if the count of boxes or the total weight becomes too high. We keep the "best" solution; if there's a tie on value, the heavier one is preferred (though this is arbitrary).

foreach my $map (1..2**(scalar @k)-1) {
  my $b=0;
  my $v=0;
  my $w=0;
  foreach my $ci (0..$#k) {
    if ($map & $v[$ci]) {
    if ($b>$maxb || $w>$maxw) {
  if ($v>0) {
    if ($v>$bestv || ($v==$bestv && $w>$maxw)) {

foreach my $ci (0..$#k) {
  if ($bestid & $v[$ci]) {
    print $k[$ci],"\n";
print "$bestv in $bestw\n";

Perl6 is functionally identical, but one needs to use .elems and .end rather than scalar and $#.

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