December 05, 2020

Hello fellow devs 👋! Today we are going to look at a LeetCode problem whose simpler version we have seen earlier.

We have dealt with a more specific case of this problem in the post LeetCode #21 - Merge Two Sorted Lists. Current problem is the generic case of the same problem.

You are given an array of k linked-lists lists, each linked-list is sorted in ascending order. Merge all the linked-lists into one sorted linked-list and return it.

`k`

==`lists.length`

- 0 ≤
`k`

≤ 10^{4} - 0 ≤
`lists[i].length`

≤ 500 -10^{4}≤`lists[i][j]`

≤ 10^{4} `lists[i]`

is sorted in ascending order.- The sum of
`lists[i].length`

won’t exceed 10^{4}.

Example 1:

```
Input: lists = [[1,4,5],[1,3,4],[2,6]]
Output: [1,1,2,3,4,4,5,6]
Explanation: The linked-lists are:
[
1->4->5,
1->3->4,
2->6
]
merging them into one sorted list:
1->1->2->3->4->4->5->6
```

Example 2:

```
Input: lists = []
Output: []
```

Example 3:

```
Input: lists = [[]]
Output: []
```

We are given a list of lists, and we need to merge all the elements of these lists in a single list in a sorted order. The important point to note that is the elements in a single list are sorted. It is not necessary that they are sorted with elements of other lists. If they did, we wouldn’t be solving this problem, would we 😉?

Solving this problem is similar to take all the elements of all the lists altogether and sort them and place them in a new (or resultant) list.

The title of the problem is giving away the approach to solve this problem. Yes, it is **Merge Sort**. Merge sort is an example of **Divide and Conquer** approach where we first divide the problem into the smallest unit possible, solve all the smallest parts and then conquer (merge) the results to arrive at the final solution.

We will follow the following steps -

- Divide the list of lists into the smallest unit possible i.e. a single list.
- Take two lists at a time and arrange their respective elements in sorted order.
- Repeat this process for all the pairs of lists
- Merge these sorted lists
- The resultant list will be the required answer.

There are `k`

lists and let’s say `N`

is the total number of nodes in all the lists, then the time complexity will be ** O(N * log k)**.

Since we are not using any data structure for intermediate computation, the space complexity will be ** O(1)**.

```
public class MergeKSortedLists {
public ListNode mergeKLists(ListNode[] lists) {
// Base condition
if (lists == null || lists.length == 0) {
return null;
}
return mergeKLists(lists, 0, lists.length - 1);
}
private ListNode mergeKLists(ListNode[] lists, int start, int end) {
if (start == end) {
return lists[start];
}
// Mid of list of lists
int mid = start + (end - start) / 2;
// Recursive call for left sublist
ListNode left = mergeKLists(lists, start, mid);
// Recursive call for right sublist
ListNode right = mergeKLists(lists, mid + 1, end);
// Merge the left and right sublist
return merge(left, right);
}
private ListNode merge(ListNode left, ListNode right) {
// Create a dummy node
ListNode head = new ListNode(-1);
// Temp node
ListNode temp = head;
// Loop until any of the list becomes null
while (left != null && right != null) {
// Choose the value from the left and right which is smaller
if (left.val < right.val) {
temp.next = left;
left = left.next;
} else {
temp.next = right;
right = right.next;
}
temp = temp.next;
}
// Take all nodes from left list if remaining
while (left != null) {
temp.next = left;
left = left.next;
temp = temp.next;
}
// Take all nodes from right list if remaining
while (right != null) {
temp.next = right;
right = right.next;
temp = temp.next;
}
return head.next;
}
}
```

```
class MergeKSortedList:
def mergeKLists(self, lists: List[ListNode]) -> ListNode:
# Base condition
if lists is None or len(lists) == 0:
return None
return self.mergeLists(lists, 0, len(lists) - 1)
def mergeLists(self, lists, start, end):
# Base condition
if start == end:
return lists[start]
# Mid of lists of lists
mid = start + (end - start) // 2
# Recursive calls for left sublist
left = self.mergeLists(lists, start, mid)
# Recursive call for right sublist
right = self.mergeLists(lists, mid + 1, end)
# Merge these sorted lists
return self.merge(left, right)
@staticmethod
def merge(left, right):
# Dummy node
head = ListNode(-1)
# Temp node
temp = head
# Loop until any of the lists becomes null
while left is not None and right is not None:
# Choose the smaller value from left and right lists
if left.val < right.val:
temp.next = left
left = left.next
else:
temp.next = right
right = right.next
temp = temp.next
# Take all nodes from left list if remaining
while left is not None:
temp.next = left
left = left.next
temp = temp.next
# Take all nodes from right list if remaining
while right is not None:
temp.next = right
right = right.next
temp = temp.next
return head.next
```

```
var mergeKLists = function (lists) {
// Base condition
if (lists === undefined || lists.length === 0) {
return null;
}
return mergeLists(lists, 0, lists.length - 1);
};
const mergeLists = (lists, start, end) => {
// Base condition
if (start === end) {
return lists[start];
}
// Mid point of the list of lists
let mid = start + parseInt((end - start) / 2);
// Recursive call for left sublist
let left = mergeLists(lists, start, mid);
// Recursive call for right sublist
let right = mergeLists(lists, mid + 1, end);
// Merge two sorted lists
return merge(left, right);
};
const merge = (left, right) => {
// Dummy node
let head = new ListNode(-1);
// Temp node
let temp = head;
// Loop until either list becomes null
while (left !== null && right != null) {
// Choose the value from the left and right which is smaller
if (left.val < right.val) {
temp.next = left;
left = left.next;
} else {
temp.next = right;
right = right.next;
}
temp = temp.next;
}
// Take all nodes from left list if remaining
while (left != null) {
temp.next = left;
left = left.next;
temp = temp.next;
}
// Take all nodes from right list if remaining
while (right != null) {
temp.next = right;
right = right.next;
temp = temp.next;
}
return head.next;
};
```

```
class MergeKSortedLists {
internal fun mergeKLists(lists: Array<ListNode?>): ListNode? {
// Base condition
return if (lists.isEmpty()) {
null
} else mergeKLists(lists, 0, lists.size - 1)
}
private fun mergeKLists(lists: Array<ListNode?>, start: Int, end: Int): ListNode? {
if (start == end) {
return lists[start]
}
// Mid of list of lists
val mid = start + (end - start) / 2
// Recursive call for left sublist
val left = mergeKLists(lists, start, mid)
// Recursive call for right sublist
val right = mergeKLists(lists, mid + 1, end)
// Merge the left and right sublist
return merge(left, right)
}
private fun merge(left: ListNode?, right: ListNode?): ListNode? {
// Create a dummy node
var leftNode = left
var rightNode = right
val head = ListNode(-1)
// Temp node
var temp: ListNode? = head
// Loop until any of the list becomes null
while (leftNode != null && rightNode != null) {
// Choose the value from the left and right which is smaller
if (leftNode.`val` < rightNode.`val`) {
temp!!.next = leftNode
leftNode = leftNode.next
} else {
temp!!.next = rightNode
rightNode = rightNode.next
}
temp = temp.next
}
// Take all nodes from left list if remaining
while (leftNode != null) {
temp!!.next = leftNode
leftNode = leftNode.next
temp = temp.next
}
// Take all nodes from right list if remaining
while (rightNode != null) {
temp!!.next = rightNode
rightNode = rightNode.next
temp = temp.next
}
return head.next
}
}
```

Congratulations 👏! We have solved the problem using the ** merge sort**.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to share your thoughts on this.

You can find the complete source code on my GitHub repository. If you like what you learn, feel free to fork 🔪 and star ⭐ it.

Till next time… Happy coding 😄 and Namaste 🙏!