2606. Find the Substring With Maximum Cost

Problem Description

Given a string s, a unique character string chars, and a corresponding array of integer values vals (with the same length as chars), the task is to calculate the maximum cost possible among all substrings of the string s. A substring is any contiguous sequence of characters within the string.

The cost of a substring is the sum of the values of each character in the substring. The value of a character is:

  • If the character isn't present in chars, its value is its 1-indexed position in the English alphabet (e.g., 'a' would be 1, 'b' would be 2, and so on up to 'z' being 26).
  • If the character is present in chars, its value is the corresponding value from vals at its index.

An empty substring is considered to have a cost of 0.

The problem requires determining the maximum sum that can be achieved by any substring’s cost within the string s by applying the rules above.


This problem is a variant of the classical maximum subarray sum problem (also known as Kadane's algorithm), where instead of finding a subarray with a maximum sum in an integer array, the objective is to find a substring with the maximum cost in a string with custom-defined character values.

The intuition behind the solution is to translate each character's cost into an integer and then apply dynamic programming to find the maximum subarray sum, which corresponds to the maximum cost substring in our problem.

As we parse the string s, we keep a running tally of the substring cost by adding the value of each character to a running sum f. If f drops below zero, it means the current substring is reducing the overall cost, so we reset it to zero to start a new potential maximum cost substring.

Concurrently, we track the maximum cost seen thus far in a separate variable ans, updating it whenever the running sum f exceeds ans. The maximum subarray sum problem essentially becomes maintaining the running sum and keeping track of the maximum sum we have seen.

The solution approach involves maintaining two variables:

  • f, the running sum which is updated as we traverse the string.
  • ans, the maximum sum encountered so far.

As we iterate over the string s, we calculate the value of each character and update f. If at any point f is less than zero (which would never contribute to a maximum sum), we reset it to zero. With each new character, we evaluate if adding its value to f yields a new maximum. If it does, we update ans with the value of f.

By the end of the iteration, ans holds the highest cost possible for any substring of s, which is the answer we return.

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Solution Approach

The solution for the maximum cost substring problem is implemented using two algorithms: the prefix sum updating and conditional resetting approach (leveraging a dynamic programming technique similar to Kadane's algorithm). Here's how it's broken down:

Prefix Sum + Maintaining Minimum Prefix Sum

  • Prefix Sum: As we traverse through each character c in string s, we obtain its value v. This is determined either by finding the character's corresponding value in the character-to-value mapping d or calculating its alphabetical index if it's not present in the custom chars string. The prefix sum tot is updated by adding the value v to it: tot = tot + v.
  • Maintaining Minimum Prefix Sum: To determine the cost of the maximum cost substring ending with c, we need to consider the minimum prefix sum encountered before c. So we subtract this minimum mi from the current prefix sum tot to get tot - mi, and then we compare this to our running answer ans. We then update ans to be the maximum of itself or the new substring cost: ans = max(ans, tot - mi). At the same time, we update mi to be the minimum of itself or the current prefix sum tot: mi = min(mi, tot).

Converting to Maximum Subarray Sum Problem

Instead of maintaining and updating both the total tot and minimum prefix sum mi, we can simplify it with a single variable f that keeps track of the cost of the maximum cost substring ending with the current character c:

  • In each iteration for character c, we update f to be the maximum between f and 0, then add the current character's value v: f = max(f, 0) + v. This is essentially the step where we consider starting a new substring (if f was negative) or continuing with the current one (if f was non-negative).
  • We then update the answer ans to be the maximum of itself or the newly calculated f: ans = max(ans, f).

The implementation ensures that at each step, we're considering substrings that either end at the current character or are empty (if a substring with a positive cost does not exist up to that point). By continuously comparing and updating f and ans as we iterate through the string, we ensure that we find the optimal solution. The final value of ans is the maximum cost of any substring in s.

The time complexity of this approach is O(n), where n is the length of the string s. The space complexity is O(C), where C is the size of the character set. Since we're dealing with lowercase English letters in this problem, C is 26.

Example of Implementation

Here is the pseudocode to illustrate the algorithm:

1initialize d as a mapping from chars to vals
2initialize ans and f to 0  # 'ans' for the final answer, 'f' for the cost of current substring
3for each character c in s:
4    v = d.get(c, ord(c) - ord('a') + 1)  # Calculate the value of c
5    f = max(f, 0) + v  # Update the running sum 'f'
6    ans = max(ans, f)  # Update the answer 'ans'
7return ans

In this pseudocode, d.get(c, ord(c) - ord('a') + 1) is getting the value of the character c either from the mapping d or calculating its alphabet index if it's not in d. The max(f, 0) is where we reset the running sum f if it's negative before adding the new character's value. This logic ensures we're always considering substrings that have a non-negative cost. Finally, we update ans with the current running sum f, ensuring that after processing all characters, ans reflects the maximum cost achievable.

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Example Walkthrough

Let's consider a small example to illustrate the solution approach.

Suppose the input string s is "dcb", the character string chars is "bd" and the corresponding array of integer values vals is [4, 6]. This means that the character 'b' has a value of 6 and 'd' has a value of 4 based on vals. Characters not in chars have a value equal to their position in the English alphabet.

We initialize d as a mapping from special chars to their associated vals, where d = {'b': 6, 'd': 4}. We then initialize two variables: ans for the maximum sum answer and f for the running sum of the cost of the current substring. Both are initially 0.

Now, we start iterating through each character c in s.

  • First, we look at character c = 'd':

    • The character 'd' is in our mapping d with a value of 4. So v = 4.
    • The running sum f becomes max(f, 0) + v. Since f is 0, we have f = 4.
    • We update ans: ans = max(ans, f), which gives us ans = 4.
  • Next, we move to c = 'c':

    • 'c' is not in our mapping d, so its value is its alphabetic index, which is 3. v = 3.
    • Update f to max(f, 0) + v. f is currently 4, so now f = 4 + 3, f = 7.
    • Update ans: ans = max(ans, f), ans = max(4, 7), so ans = 7.
  • Finally for c = 'b':

    • 'b' is in d with a value of 6. v = 6.
    • Update f to max(f, 0) + v. f is 7, so f = 7 + 6, f = 13.
    • Update ans: ans = max(ans, f), ans = 13.

At the end of the string, the maximum cost ans is 13, which corresponds to the substring "dcb", as no smaller substring provides a higher cost. The final answer is 13.

The time complexity of this algorithm is O(n) where n is the length of the string s, and the space complexity is O(C) where C is the size of the character set given by chars, with a constant space optimization for the English alphabet having 26 characters.

Solution Implementation

1class Solution:
2    def maximumCostSubstring(self, s: str, chars: str, vals: List[int]) -> int:
3        # Create a dictionary with characters as keys and corresponding values as dictionary values
4        char_to_value = {character: value for character, value in zip(chars, vals)}
6        # Initialize variables to keep track of the maximum cost and the current cost
7        max_cost = running_cost = 0
9        # Iterate through each character in the string 's'
10        for char in s:
11            # Lookup the character value in the dictionary, if not found, calculate the default value
12            # The default value is the ASCII code of the character minus the ASCII code of 'a', plus 1.
13            value = char_to_value.get(char, ord(char) - ord('a') + 1)
15            # Update the running cost, reset to zero if it becomes negative
16            running_cost = max(running_cost, 0) + value
18            # Update the maximum cost encountered so far
19            max_cost = max(max_cost, running_cost)
21        # Return the final maximum cost calculated
22        return max_cost
1class Solution {
2    public int maximumCostSubstring(String s, String chars, int[] values) {
3        // Initialize an array to store values for 'a' to 'z'
4        int[] costMapping = new int[26];
6        // Fill the array with default values as index + 1 (it seems to be placeholder values)
7        for (int i = 0; i < costMapping.length; ++i) {
8            costMapping[i] = i + 1;
9        }
11        // Map the cost of characters given in `chars` using `vals`
12        for (int i = 0; i < chars.length(); ++i) {
13            // Use the character's ASCII value to find the correct index in `costMapping`,
14            // and update that position with the value from `vals`
15            costMapping[chars.charAt(i) - 'a'] = values[i];
16        }
18        int maxCost = 0;   // Maximum cost encountered so far
19        int currentCost = 0; // Current cost while evaluating the substring
20        int stringLength = s.length(); // Length of the string `s`
22        // Iterate through each character of the input string `s`
23        for (int i = 0; i < stringLength; ++i) {
24            // Get the cost of the current character
25            int charCost = costMapping[s.charAt(i) - 'a'];
27            // Update the currentCost: reset to 0 if negative, or add the value of the current character
28            currentCost = Math.max(currentCost, 0) + charCost;
30            // Update the maximum cost encountered so far
31            maxCost = Math.max(maxCost, currentCost);
32        }
34        // Return the maximum cost found for the substring
35        return maxCost;
36    }
1class Solution {
3    // Function to calculate the maximum cost substring where 's' is the input string,
4    // 'chars' is a list of characters, and 'vals' is the corresponding list of values.
5    int maximumCostSubstring(string s, string chars, vector<int>& vals) {
6        // Initialize a vector with 26 elements (for each letter of the alphabet) with values 1 to 26.
7        vector<int> delta(26);
8        iota(delta.begin(), delta.end(), 1);
10        // Store the size of 'chars' string for later use.
11        int charListSize = chars.size();
13        // Replace the initial values in 'delta' with the corresponding values from 'vals'.
14        for (int i = 0; i < charListSize; ++i) {
15            delta[chars[i] - 'a'] = vals[i];
16        }
18        // Initialize variables to keep track of maximum cost and the current running fragment cost.
19        int maxCost = 0, currentFragmentCost = 0;
21        // Calculate the maximum cost substring by iterating through each character of the string 's'.
22        for (char& c : s) {
23            // Get the value of the current character from the delta vector.
24            int value = delta[c - 'a'];
26            // Calculate the current fragment cost. If the current fragment cost dips below 0,
27            // reset it to 0, and add the value of the current character.
28            currentFragmentCost = max(currentFragmentCost, 0) + value;
30            // Update the maxCost if the currentFragmentCost is larger than the maxCost.
31            maxCost = max(maxCost, currentFragmentCost);
32        }
34        // Return the maximum cost found.
35        return maxCost;
36    }
1// Function to calculate the maximum cost of a non-empty substring where cost is 
2// determined by associated values of characters.
3function maximumCostSubstring(s: string, chars: string, values: number[]): number {
4    // Create an array to hold the cost value of each alphabet letter, initialized 
5    // with values 1 to 26 to represent 'a' to 'z'.
6    const costs: number[] = Array.from({ length: 26 }, (_, index) => index + 1);
8    // Override the cost values based on the 'chars' and 'vals' input.
9    // This assigns the custom values to the specific characters in 'chars'.
10    for (let i = 0; i < chars.length; ++i) {
11        costs[chars.charCodeAt(i) - 'a'.charCodeAt(0)] = values[i];
12    }
14    // Initialize variables to track the maximum cost, current total cost, 
15    // and the minimum cost encountered so far.
16    let maxCost = 0;
17    let totalCost = 0;
18    let minCost = 0;
20    // Loop through each character in the input string
21    for (const char of s) {
22        // Add the cost of the current character to the total cost
23        totalCost += costs[char.charCodeAt(0) - 'a'.charCodeAt(0)];
24        // Update the maximum cost if the current total cost minus the minimum cost
25        // encountered so far is greater than the current maximum cost.
26        maxCost = Math.max(maxCost, totalCost - minCost);
27        // Update the minimum cost encountered so far if needed
28        minCost = Math.min(minCost, totalCost);
29    }
31    // Return the maximum cost of a substring computed
32    return maxCost;

Time and Space Complexity

Time Complexity

The time complexity of the code is O(n) where n is the length of the string s. This is because the algorithm iterates over each character of the string exactly once, performing a constant amount of work for each character by looking up a value in the dictionary and updating the variables f and ans.

Space Complexity

The space complexity of the code is O(C) where C is the size of the character set. In this problem, the character set size is static and equals 26 because the lowercase alphabet is used. The dictionary d contains at most C key-value pairs, where C represents the unique characters in chars, which are in turn mapped to vals.

Learn more about how to find time and space complexity quickly using problem constraints.

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