ECE220: Computer Systems & Programming
Machine Problem 4 .
Solving a Row in a Nonogram
Your task this week is to solve a logic problem and to print the solution. The logic problem forms a small
part of solving a type of puzzle often called a Nonogram, in which a player tries to fill in a pixelated, blackand-white image based on lists of the lengths of the contiguous black regions in each row and column. In
particular, given the number of pixels in a row and the number of pixels in up to five regions in that row,
you must identify those pixels known to be part of one of the regions.
The objective for this week is for you to gain some experience with control structures in C, particularly
with loops and conditional statements.
A sample of a simple Nonogram appears to the right. The image
is 5×5 pixels. The sizes of contiguous black regions in each row
are listed to the left of the row. These regions appear in order
from left to right in the image. And the sizes of contiguous
black regions in each column are listed at the top of the column.
These regions appear in order from top to bottom in the image.
To solve the puzzle, a player must use the region sizes and
orders to determine whether each pixel in the image is black or
white. Players usually start with individual row or column
constraints, which are the easiest to understand (and are the only
part that concerns you for this assignment).
Consider the top row of the sample Nonogram: the row is five pixels wide, and there is one region of five
contiguous black pixels (written as “5” to the left of the row). Obviously, the region comprises the entire
The fourth row from the top is slightly more complex. The row is again five pixels wide. However, there
are now three regions, each consisting of one black pixel (written as “1, 1, 1” to the left of the row). Any
two adjacent regions must be separated by at least one white pixel, as otherwise the regions are contiguous
and represent a single region (a contradiction). The total number of pixels required is thus five: three for
the black pixels in the regions, and two white pixels to separate the three regions. Only one solution exists,
as shown below.
The region sizes may not always suffice to identify all pixels in the row or column. For example, the region
sizes for the middle row in the sample Nonogram allow the six possible solutions below.
5 1,1 1,2 1,1 5
1, 1, 1
1, 1, 1
1, 1 1, 1
1, 1 1, 1
1, 1 1, 1
Note that each of the pixels in the row can be either black or white, depending on which of the six solutions
is the correct one. The region sizes alone, in this case, provide no information about any of the pixels!
As a final example, consider the region sizes of the middle column in the
sample. Three possible solutions exist, as shown to the right. Notice again
that, for most of the pixels, the color of the pixel depends on which solution
is the correct one. However, the fourth pixel from the top must be black.
In some cases, such as the sample Nonogram given here, applying all row
and column constraints as just discussed is sufficient to completely solve
the puzzle. More generally, however, iterative application of these rules
and even more sophisticated methods are needed. Fortunately, for this MP,
you need only apply the constraints for a single row and determine which
pixels, if any, are known to be black based on the region sizes for the row.
You must write the C function specified by the following:
int32_t print_row (int32_t width, int32_t r1, int32_t r2,
int32_t r3, int32_t r4, int32_t r5);
The first parameter passed to print_row is the width of the row in pixels. In the sample Nonogram,
width=5. The other five parameters are region sizes, allowing the row to have as many as five regions.
All but the first region may be size 0, in which case the region does not exist. For example, given the row
constraints specified as “1, 2” in the sample, your function could be executed with parameter values r1=1,
r2=0, r3=2, r4=0, and r5=0.
In some cases, the specified regions (and any necessary pixels in between) may not fit into the given width.
In such cases, your function should print nothing, and return 0.
If the regions fit, your function should determine which pixels are known to be black, then print the row to
the monitor, using ‘*’ (asterisk) to represent known black pixels, and ‘-‘ (hyphen) to represent other
pixels. After printing the row, your function should print a newline character (‘\n’).
A few examples appear below. In each case, the program (“onerow”) is invoked with the row width and
the five region sizes. Only in the first example does the function return 0 to indicate failure; for all other
examples below, the function must return 1.
./onerow 18 3 5 2 4 1 [ returns 0; regions require at least 19 pixels ]
./onerow 19 3 5 2 4 1 prints ***-*****-**-****-* (and a newline)
./onerow 20 3 5 2 4 1 prints -**–****–*–***— (and a newline)
./onerow 21 3 5 2 4 1 prints –*—***——**—- (and a newline)
./onerow 22 3 5 2 4 1 prints ——-**——-*—– (and a newline)
./onerow 23 3 5 2 4 1 prints ——–*————– (and a newline)
./onerow 24 3 5 2 4 1 prints ———————— (and a newline)
1,2 1,2 1,2
Your program will consist of a total of three files:
mp4.h This header file provides function declarations and a brief description of the
function that you must write for this assignment.
mp4.c The main source file for your code (you must write it yourself). Include the
mp4.h header file and be sure that your function matches the one in the header.
A second file is also provided to you:
main.c A source file that interprets commands and calls your function.
You need not read this file, although you are welcome to do so.
You should read the description of the function in the header file before you begin coding.
Your code must be written in C and must be submitted as a file named mp4.c. in the mp/mp4
subdirectory of your repository. We will NOT grade any other files. Changes made to any other
files WILL BE IGNORED during grading. If your code does not work properly without such
changes, you are likely to receive 0 credit.
You must implement the print_row function correctly.
o You may assume that all region sizes and the width are between 0 and 50.
o You may further assume that r1 and the width are at least 1.
o You may want to start by assuming that all five regions exist.
Your routine’s return values and outputs must be correct.
Your code must be well-commented. Follow the commenting style of the code examples provided
in class and in the textbook.
Compiling and Executing Your Program
Once you have created the mp4.c file and written the print_row function, you can compile your code by
gcc -g -Wall main.c mp4.c -o onerow
The “-g” argument tells the compiler to include debugging information so that you can use gdb to find
your bugs (you will have some).
The “-Wall” argument tells the compiler to give you warning messages for any code that it thinks likely
to be a bug. Track down and fix all such issues, as they are usually bugs. Also note that if your code
generates any warnings, you will lose points.
The “-o onerow” argument tells the compiler to name the resulting program “onerow”. If compilation
succeeds, you can then execute the program as specified in the examples given earlier in this document.
The onerow program takes six command line arguments:
./onerow <width> <r1> <r2> <r3> <r4> <r5>
The first argument is the row width in pixels, and the other five arguments are the region sizes. If the
arguments given are not valid (according to the assumptions given in the “Specifics” section), the code in
main.c responds without calling your function.
We put a fair amount of emphasis on style and clarity in this class, as reflected in the rubric below.
5% – Function returns 0 when regions cannot fit, and 1 when they can.
10% – Number of characters output corresponds to given width (plus a newline).
5% – Correct characters (‘*’ and ‘-‘) are used to represent pixels.
35% – Function works correctly when all five regions exist.
15% – Zero-length regions handled correctly.
15% – Common code used to handle 0-length regions (does not rewrite the entire function based
on how many regions exist).
Comments, Clarity, and Write-up (15%)
5% – introductory paragraph explaining what you did (even if it’s just the required work)
10% – code is clear and well-commented, and compilation generates no warnings (note: any
warning generated during compilation means 0 points here)
Note that some categories in the rubric may depend on other categories and/or criteria. For example, if you
code does not compile, you will receive no functionality points. Your function must be able to be called
many times and produce the correct results, so we suggest that you avoid using any static storage (or you
may lose most/all of your functionality points).