Woodstock Blog

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[Question] Most Frequent Word From a Book



Let’s say I gave you a long String and I wanted you to tell me the most common word in that String. How would you do that?

Follow-up: how about if I gave you the entire works of Alexandre Dumas, one of the most prolific authors in history. How would your solution work? How could you change it to solve this more specific problem?


There are 2 solutions. Either HashMap or Trie. It’s easy to think of first, but remember that Trie is designed to do this kind of job.

A trie will be more useful in the second situation where you will have millions of words. You can have a counter at every node to see its frequency

Now the follow up. For big data problems, we can always do divide and conquer by hash value.

Alternatively, the comment by Prince mentioned how to solve with Map Reduce:

Instead of loading it as a string first I would stream data so that I avoid memory spike. Further our map size might increases as new words are added to it. Also, we can use map reduce type job were we create map<word, frequency> of each play in parallel and later join/collapse them this will reduce the time it will take to get result.

Common phrase should be no different then above algorithm. However we need to rebuild our index with <phase, frequency>